martedì 3 aprile 2012

Angola 2012: Oil near $104 amid mixed global economic signs

Oil prices fell to near $104 a barrel Tuesday as traders eyed mixed signs about the strength of the global economy. By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark oil for May delivery was down 90 cents to $104.33 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $2.21 to settle at $105.23 per barrel in New York on Monday. In London, Brent crude was down 74 cents at $124.69 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange. Crude has traded near $105 a barrel since February as traders weigh an improving U.S. economy against signs of weakening growth in Europe and China. Prices were bolstered Monday by a report that showed U.S. industrial production grew in March at a faster pace than February while China said on the weekend that manufacturers also gained momentum in March. However, manufacturing data from France and Germany weakened, suggesting Europe will likely face a recession this year. Investors are anticipating a possible release of crude reserves by the U.S. and some European countries to help lower prices. Oil exporting countries may also boost output, especially if prices stay elevated. "Further price advances will only up the odds of a strategic petroleum reserve release while at the same time encouraging additional OPEC production gains that have been on the rise since late last year," energy trader and consultant Ritterbusch and Associates said in a report. Investors will also be monitoring fresh information on U.S. stockpiles of crude and refined products. Data for the week ending March 30 are expected to show a build of 1.9 million barrels in crude oil stocks and a draw of 1.6 million barrels in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos. The American Petroleum Institute will release its report on oil stocks later Tuesday, while the report from the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration - the market benchmark - will be out on Wednesday. In other energy trading, heating oil was down 1.74 cents at $3.2322 per gallon and gasoline futures slid 0.67 cent to $3.3755 per gallon. Natural gas fell 3.3 cents to $2.119 per 1,000 cubic feet. ___ Alex Kennedy in Singapore contributed to this report.

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