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Crude Flat Amid Steady US Dollar


The price of crude oil was moving lower Thursday morning amid a generally steady U.S. dollar, with traders awaiting more cues from the next round of talks, scheduled for March 18, between Iran and world powers over the nuclear program.

Light Sweet Crude Oil (WTI) futures for April delivery, eased $0.09 to $92.67 a barrel. Yesterday, oil settled marginally higher on some upbeat macroeconomic data from the U.S. and Europe, even as the political situation in Italy eased. Investors largely ignored an Energy Information Administration report that showed U.S. stockpiles to have increased lesser than expected last week. Concerns over Italy eased somewhat after political parities began exploring possibilities of forming a government after initial rhetoric from various groups to the contrary.

Wednesday during market hours, the EIA revealed that US crude oil inventories moved up 1.1 million barrels, while gasoline stocks shed 1.90 million barrels in the weekended February 22. Analysts expected crude oil inventories to add 2.5 million barrels and gasoline stocks to decline 1 million barrels last week.

This morning, the U.S. dollar was hovering around its 2-month high versus the euro and its 30-month high against sterling. The buck was trading around its two-and half year high versus the yen and ticking higher against the Swiss franc.

In economic news, inflation in the euro area, as per the harmonized index of consumer prices, weakened in January as estimated earlier, final data from statistical office Eurostat showed. The harmonized index of consumer prices (HICP), measured under the EU methodology, increased 2 percent on an annual basis in January, after rising 2.2 percent in December. The latest figure matched preliminary estimates.

German unemployment declined unexpectedly by 3,000 in February from the prior month, the Federal Labor Agency said. However, the jobless rate held steady at 6.9 percent in February, above the consensus forecast to 6.8 percent.

Traders will look to the release of the second read of fourth quarter GDP report from the Commerce Department, due out at at 8:30 a.m. ET. Economists expect GDP to be upwardly revised to show 0.5 percent growth for the quarter compared to the 0.1 percent drop estimated earlier.

Simultaneously, the Labor Department will release its weekly jobless claims report. The consensus estimates call for a decline in jobless claims to 360,000 in the week ended February 23rd compared to 362,000 in the previous week.

Later during the session, the ISM-Chicago is due to release the results of its regional manufacturing survey. The business barometer based on the survey is expected to decline to 55 in February from 55.6 in January.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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