Brent crude slips below $111
Chinese data showing uneven economic recovery puts pressure on oil prices
Brent futures slipped further below $111 this morning as data from China pointed to an uneven economic recovery in the world's second-biggest oil consumer, with a stronger dollar putting additional pressure on prices.
Chinese data showing inflation at a 10-month high in February and weaker factory output and consumer spending stoked worries that the economy may need policy tightening before industrial output and retail sales regain momentum. But the likelihood of the numbers being distorted by the long annual Lunar New Year holidays helped stem further losses.
Brent crude fell 34 cents to $110.51 a barrel by 03.45 GMT, after ending the week marginally higher to snap three straight weeks of losses. US oil slipped 15 cents to $91.80, after ending 39 cents higher.
"The response to the Chinese numbers is fairly limited, which is appropriate because the data is difficult to interpret due to the impact the holidays may have had," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney. "China's growth story overall remains intact as the authorities will do whatever they can to ensure they maintain 7.5 per cent growth."
Data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed the consumer price index rose 3.2 per cent from a year ago, versus expectations of a 3 per cent rise, while annual industrial production (IP) growth in January and February combined at 9.9 per cent was the lowest since October 2012 - the starting point of China's nascent economic recovery.
Prices are also under pressure from a stronger dollar. The dollar hovered near a 3-1/2-year high against the yen and held an upper hand against other major currencies after a remarkable growth in US employment. A stronger greenback can weigh on dollar-denominated commodities such as oil.