The price of oil fell from a five-week high Thursday after China reported weak monthly trade data and a report showed a big increase in U.S. crude supplies.
Benchmark crude for May delivery was down 31 cents to $103.29 at 0525 GMT in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.04 to settle at $103.60 on Wednesday amid unrest in eastern Ukraine after gaining more than $2 the day before. The last time it finished above $103 was on March 4.
Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil prices, fell 42 cents to $107.53 a barrel on the ICE exchange in London.
Oil fell as Chinese trade numbers showed that exports contracted unexpectedly in March, shrinking by 6.6 per cent from a year earlier while imports contracted 11.3 per cent.
The numbers highlight the gradual slowdown in China’s economic growth, which could result in lower demand for energy. The country’s leaders are struggling to hit a full-year target of 7.5 per cent growth this year while reorienting the world’s second biggest economy away from trade and investment to one based on domestic spending.
Crude prices also slipped following the report by the U.S. Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration that showed 4 million barrels were added to supplies last week. That’s a lot more than the 2.5 million barrels predicted by analysts surveyed by Platt’s, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.
In other energy futures trading in New York:
— Wholesale gasoline lost 1.5 cents to $2.993 a gallon.
— Natural gas fell 1.1 cents to $4.575 per 1,000 cubic feet.
— Heating oil was down 0.7 cent at $2.947 a gallon.
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