Crude prices fall on demand worries, China data and Greek debt

10 February 2012 13:49  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Crude fell more than $1/bbl on Friday with ICE Brent futures slipping back from recent six-month highs amid concerns over the lack of resolution in Greek debt talks and demand outlook worries following the release of downbeat economic data from China.

At 11:46 GMT, March Brent crude on London’s ICE futures exchange was trading at $117.02/bbl, down by $1.57/bbl from the previous close. Earlier, the North Sea benchmark fell to a session low of $117.00/bbl, down by $1.59/bbl.

March NYMEX light sweet crude futures (WTI) were trading at $98.51/bbl, down by $1.33/bbl on the previous close. Earlier the US benchmark fell to a session low of $98.50/bbl, down by $1.34/bbl from the previous close.

On Thursday, ICE Brent futures settled at $118.89/bbl, the highest level since 26 July 2011. High prices have been supported by supply concerns generated by the Iran crisis, recent cold weather in Europe and optimism that Greece could reach an agreement with its creditors.

However, on Friday crude values eased following the release of January customs data from China revealed that exports declined for the first time in two years, down 0.5% from a year earlier. Imports also fell by 15.3%.

As a result China’s trade surplus rose to a six month high of $27.4bn. The decline was partly explained by factory closures for the Lunar New Year holidays.

Meanwhile, the Greek government has yet to gain parliamentary approval for the terms of a €130bn ($173bn) bailout package it agreed earlier this week with its creditors the EU, European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has lowered its global oil demand forecast for 2012 to 89.9m bbl/day, up 0.8m bbl/day on 2011, on lower growth projections from the IMF and "an increasingly problematic global economic backdrop".

By: James Dennis
+65 6780 4359

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