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Oil prices fall on weak China data
[SINGAPORE] Oil prices fell in Asia Wednesday as lacklustre Chinese economic data raised concerns about demand in the world's top energy consuming nation, analysts said.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for June delivery fell 34 cents to US$60.16 while Brent crude for June eased 25 cents to US$66.56 in late-morning trade.
"The global demand situation for oil is considerably weaker than it was 24 hours ago lead by weak data coming in from China, and this has been the main factor pushing prices down," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist with CMC Markets in Sydney.
Growth in retail sales, a key indicator of consumer spending, fell to 10.0 per cent in April, China's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Wednesday, the weakest for nine years.
Fixed asset investment, a measure of government spending on infrastructure, expanded 12.0 per cent in the first four months of the year, the lowest since 2000.
And industrial output, which measures production at factories, workshops and mines, rose 5.9 per cent in April, improving from a 5.6 per cent gain in March but also weaker than economists' forecasts of 6.0 per cent.
China is the world's second biggest economy and its largest energy consuming nation.
McCarthy said a larger-than-expected decline in US crude stockpiles, an indication of stronger demand, was limiting the price decline.
The US Department of Energy said crude stockpiles dropped 2.2 million barrels in the week ending May 8, to 484.8 million barrels.
It was the second straight week of declines, and was much larger than the 250,000-barrel decrease expected by analysts.
However, the Intenational Energy Agency (IEA) said Wednesday the global crude supply glut blamed for the plunge in prices remains as other producers raise their output to make up for a cut in US shale production.
In its latest monthly report the IEA said global output remained at 95.7 million barrels per day (mbd) in April.