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Aug 11, 2012, 12.30 PM IST
Oil prices fell on Friday on data showing China's total exports grew less than forecast and its crude oil imports fell in July, and on weaker global oil demand forecasts from the International Energy Agency.
Those reports added to concerns about demand for oil going forward and countered supportive hopes or expectations that central banks will introduce more stimulus measures aimed at lifting global economic growth.
Brent and U.S. crude remained on track to post their second straight weekly gains, with Brent on track for a weekly rise of nearly 4% and U.S. crude of just over 1%.
Maintenance expected to curb North Sea production, potential threats to supply from violence and tensions in the Middle East sent prices to 12-week peaks this week.
Brent crude's premium over U.S. crude eased, but was over $19 a barrel and reached USD 19.99 intraday.
"Crude futures are retreating on both sides of the Atlantic ... after reports showed that exports from China collapsed in July and its net-imports of crude were the lowest since December," Addison Armstrong, senior director for market research at Tradition Energy, said in a research note.
Brent September crude fell 40 cents to USD 112.82 a barrel by 1:20 p.m. EDT (1720 GMT). Brent fell intraday to USD 111.31, finding support a penny below the 200-day moving average.
U.S. September crude was down 82 cents at USD 92.54 a barrel, having traded from USD 91.71 to USD 93.87 and putting prices intraday on both sides of the 100-day moving average of USD 93.06.
Trading volumes continued to show summer-lull weakness, with turnover for Brent and U.S. crude well below their 30-day averages.
"The crude oil markets are taking a breather, after a run-up since from about the start of the month, but now markets are watching if there will be a follow-through on the comments from the European Central Bank for action to lift the euro zone from its current crisis," said Sean McGillivray, vice president at Great Pacific Wealth Management in Grants Pass, Oregon.
MIDDLE EAST TENSIONS
An Israeli newspaper reported that the country's prime minister and defense minister want to attack Iran's nuclear sites before the U.S. election in November, but lack crucial support within their cabinet and military.
The report added to the recent increase in speculation that war with Iran could be imminent.
The violent struggle in Syria continued to fuel the uncertainty about the region's oil supplies. Rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces in Aleppo promised a counterattack on Friday.
IEA CUTS DEMAND OUTLOOK
The International Energy Agency (IEA) on Friday cut its estimates of for global oil demand for several years, trimming its 2013 demand forecast by 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the light of a "worrying slowdown" in global economic activity.
China's imports of crude oil sank in July to a nine-month low as refineries cut output due to reduced demand as growth in the world's second-largest economy sputtered.
Goods sent from export-sensitive China in July rose only 1% from year ago, well below expectations, and new loans were at a 10-month low, adding to worries about faltering growth in the world's No. 2 oil consumer.
May 25 2013, 16:36
- in Technicals
May 25 2013, 16:36
- in MARKET OUTLOOK