Oil rose toward $78 a barrel on Monday, recovering from the previous session's steep drop, after manufacturing data from China revived expectations economic recovery would generate extra fuel demand.
Prices also drew some support from a Reuters survey showing OPEC output had declined slightly, but at the same time production from non-OPEC Russia reached a new post-Soviet record.
Traders and analysts said the mood remained cautious as equities markets sank to one-month lows and braced for the possible withdrawal of stimulative monetary policy as major central banks meet this week.
U.S. crude for December delivery rose 62 cents to $77.62 a barrel by 1246 GMT, reversing some of Friday's loss of $2.87, but down from a session high of $78.25. Brent crude rose 84 cents to $76.04.
Monday's rally was initially stoked by news HSBC's China Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) had risen for the seventh straight month in October, to an 18-month high of 55.4, pointing to sustained strength in the country's vast manufacturing sector.
Chinese demand is a straw in the wind, said Christopher Bellew of brokerage Bache Financial.
But patchy, fragile are the sort of words being used to describe recovery. There is no real sign of demand increasing.
FAILURE TO HOLD ABOVE $80
After hitting a high for this year of $82 a barrel in late October, U.S. crude failed to sustain gains above $80.
Its 3.6 percent fall on Friday followed data from the United States, the world's biggest energy consumer, showing weaker consumer sentiment in October and consumer spending cuts in September.
The figures also dragged down equities markets, which extended losses on Monday as investors anticipated a week of meetings at major central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve and European Central Bank.
World stocks as measured by MSCI <.MIWD00000PUS> were down 0.3 percent, adding to last week's more-than-4-percent loss, the largest since early March just before the rally began.
During several months of rising equity markets, oil mostly moved higher in sympathy, while being negatively correlated to a declining U.S. dollar.
The dollar edged lower against a basket of currencies on Monday <.DXY>, potentially lending modest support to oil and other dollar-denominated commodities, which become cheaper for non-dollar investors when the U.S. currency falls.
Some in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have expressed concern dollar weakness this year has driven speculative buying in oil.
After oil climbed above $80, they voiced the possibility the group could raise output when it next meets in December, provided there were evidence of economic growth and the price continued to rise.
The latest Reuters survey found OPEC oil supply had fallen slightly in October, the first drop since April, following pipeline sabotage in Iraq and lower output from Nigeria and leading exporter Saudi Arabia.
At the same time, production from the biggest non-OPEC producer Russia climbed to 10.04 million barrels per day (bpd) in October from 10.01 million bpd in September.
(Additional reporting by Alex Lawler and Fayen Wong; Editing by Keiron Henderson)