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Crude Extends Losses On Demand Concerns

The price of crude oil was extending losses for a second session Thursday morning as traders fret over demand growth.

Light Sweet Crude Oil (WTI) futures for May delivery, eased $0.51 to $104.90 a barrel. Yesterday, oil closed sharply lower as an Energy Information Administration report showed U.S. crude stockpiles increased more than double of what analysts expected.

Wednesday during trading hours, the EIA revealed that U.S. crude oil inventories jumped 7.10 million barrels, while gasoline stocks were down by 3.50 million barrels in the weekended March 23. Analysts were expecting crude oil inventories to jump 2.55 million barrels, while gasoline stocks are seen easing 1.55 million barrels last week. Reports of a possible release of U.S. strategic petroleum reserves also weighed on crude prices.

This morning, the U.S. dollar was leveling off from its monthly low against the euro, while trading flat against sterling and the Swiss franc. The buck continued to move lower versus the yen.

In economic news from the euro zone, Germany's unemployment rate declined to 6.7 percent in March from 6.8 percent in February, data from the Federal Labor Agency showed. Economists had forecast the jobless rate to remain steady at 6.8 percent for a third consecutive month. The number of unemployed persons declined by 18,000 from a month earlier in March. Economists expected the number of unemployed to decrease by 10,000.

Meanwhile, euro zone economic confidence dropped marginally in March after improving in January and February, survey data from the European Commission revealed. The economic sentiment index fell to 94.4 from 94.5 a month ago. The reading was below the consensus forecast of 94.5.

Traders will look to the weekly jobless claims data from the US Labor Department, due out at 8.30 a.m. ET. Economists expect claims to edge up to 350,000 in the recent reporting week from 348,000 in the previous week.

Simultaneously, the Commerce Department is due to release its final estimate of fourth quarter GDP. Economists expect the GDP estimate to be left unrevised at 3 percent.

by RTT Staff Writer

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