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Crude Slips Near $103 Ahead Of Official Inventories Data

The price of crude oil slipped back near $103 Wednesday morning as traders await cues from the official inventories data, due out later during the session.

Light Sweet Crude Oil (WTI) futures for May delivery, shed $0.73 to $103.28 a barrel. Yesterday, oil settled lower near $104 on continued worries over demand growth while the dollar pushed ahead following the release of Federal Reserve policy meeting minutes.

Tuesday after the market hours, the API said US crude oil inventories gained 7.80 million barrels, while gasoline stocks dipped 4.50 million barrels in the weekended March 30.

The US dollar strengthened after Federal Reserve policymakers yesterday said that the U.S. economy is gradually improving and appear less inclined to implement any more monetary stimulus.

This morning, the U.S. dollar advanced to a 2-week high versus the euro and the Swiss franc, while gaining to a weekly high against sterling. The buck was ticking lower versus the yen.

In economic news, euro zone retail sales declined in February, but at a slower-than-expected pace, data from Eurostat showed. Retail sales fell 0.1 percent month-on-month in February, following a 1.1 percent rise in January. Economists were expecting sales to dip 0.2 percent.

Meanwhile, Germany's factory orders grew 0.3 percent month-on-month in February, reversing January's 1.8 percent decline, the Federal Ministry of Economy and Technology showed. The expansion was much smaller than the 1.5 percent consensus forecast. On a yearly basis, industrial orders fell by adjusted 6.1 percent, following a 6 percent drop in the previous month. Economists were expecting 5.5 percent decrease.

The European Central Bank is set to announce its interest rate decision at 7.45 am ET. Economists expect policymakers to maintain the rate at 1.00 percent. ECB President Mario Draghi is set to hold a the regular post-decision press conference at 8.30 a.m. ET.

Today traders will look to the private sector employment report from the US ADP, due out at 8.15 a.m ET. Economists expect for an addition of 208,000 jobs by the sector in March following an addition of 170,000 jobs in February.

Later during the session, the Institute for Supply Management is scheduled to release the results of its non-manufacturing survey. The non-manufacturing index is likely to show a reading of 57 for March, almost flat with the February reading of 57.3.

Later during the trading hours the EIA will come out with its report on US crude oil inventories for the weekended March 30. Analysts expect crude oil inventories to gain 2.20 million barrels, while gasoline stocks are seen dipping 1.40 million barrels last week.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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