Oil Prices Dive to Seven-Month Low Amid Weak Economic Data

Thursday, 14 Aug 2014 04:23 PM

 

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Oil prices tumbled to a seven-month low Thursday, with the U.S. benchmark dropping 2.1 percent, as investors weighed a mounting batch of weak economic data from around the world.

The main U.S. futures contract, West Texas Intermediate for September delivery, tumbled $2.01 to close at $95.58 a barrel, its lowest level since January.

European benchmark Brent North Sea crude for delivery in September dropped $2.27 to settle at $102.01 in London trade. That marked its lowest closing level since late June 2013.

The market reacted to data showing growth in the 18-country eurozone stalled in the second quarter.

Analysts had expected a 0.2 percent expansion, and the flatlining raised questions about the strength of demand in the single-currency bloc.

Germany, Europe's largest economy, shrank by 0.2 percent, and France, the second-largest, had zero growth for the second consecutive quarter.

"The data predated the imposition of tighter sanctions against Russia that are seen as weighing further on Germany's overall economic performance," said Phil Flynn of Price Futures Group.

"The reopening of the Forties pipeline in the North Sea and an uptick in Libyan oil production may also be contributing something to the market's sense that supply is abundant, and demand in question."

Earlier, too, there were more signs of economic weakness elsewhere that weakened oil price support: bank lending in China sank in July; Japan's economy shrank at an annualized rate of 6.8 percent in the second quarter; and U.S. retail sales were flat in July compared with the prior month.

"We are falling off the cliff again," said James Williams of WTRG Economics. "If there is anything that causes lower prices, it is weak economies."

© AFP 2014

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