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Crude Edges Down On China Data; Inflation In Focus

The price of crude oil was moving lower Friday morning after Chinese economic growth slowed more than expected.

The Chinese economy expanded at the weakest pace in nearly three years in the first quarter of 2012, with growth decelerating more than expected from the fourth quarter of 2011, mounting pressure on the government for continued policy action to support economic activity. The gross domestic product expanded 8.1 percent year-on-year in the first three months of 2012, slower than the fourth quarter's 8.9 percent increase, the National Bureau of Statistics said. The latest result was the weakest in 11 quarters. Economists expected a slowdown in growth to 8.4 percent.

Light Sweet Crude Oil (WTI) futures for May delivery, were down $0.22 to $103.42 a barrel. Yesterday, oil ended higher as global equity markets continued to advance and some leading comments from senior Fed officials raised hopes of further monetary stimulus for the economy. Oil prices were supported by a weak dollar that pared early gains, following the Fed observations, to trade lower against a basket of major currencies.

This morning, the U.S. dollar was paring its previous session's losses versus the euro and sterling, while ticking higher against the Swiss franc and the yen.

In economic news from the euro zone, Germany's EU harmonized inflation slowed in March as initially estimated, final data from the Federal Statistical Office revealed. The harmonized index of consumer prices for Germany, which is calculated for European purposes, rose 2.3 percent annually, which was slightly slower than the 2.5 percent growth seen in February.

Traders will look to the inflation data from the U.S. Labor Department due out at 8.30 a.m ET. Economists expect the headline index to have increased 0.3 percent compared to a 0.2 percent increase in core inflation.

Later during the session, the preliminary report of the Reuters/University of Michigan's consumer sentiment survey for April will be released. The consumer sentiment index is expected to remain unchanged at 76.2.

by RTT Staff Writer

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