Natural-gas prices, meanwhile, went against the trend among major energy futures, climbing nearly 2% after a smaller-than-expected increase in weekly U.S. supplies of the fuel.
Crude oil for May delivery fell 17 cents, or 0.2%, to $103.43 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. May Brent crude , the European benchmark oil, declined 27 cents, or 0.3%, to $107.71 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.
Chinese exports fell 6.6% from a year earlier in March after dropping more than 18% year-over-year in February. Economists had forecasted a 2.8% rise.
Both imports and exports didn’t rebound as expected,China is a key element of global oil demand growth ... and indications of both soft domestic demand and weaker global demand for its products inevitably means lesser demand for oil.That said, the murmurs and rumors of further stimulus measures from the engine-room of global growth have already started.
Nymex oil prices were little moved by data that showed first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell 32,000 to a nearly seven-year low of 300,000 in the week ended April 5. Economists had forecast a more modest drop to 320,000.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, said in a monthly report that its oil production fell by more than a half-million barrels a day last month to 29.6 million barrels. But it raised its forecast for non-OPEC supply growth this year and left the 2014 demand outlook for OPEC oil relatively unchanged, down 100,000 barrels a day at 29.6 million barrels a day.Meanwhile, continued unrest in Ukraine were seen underpinning prices while traders also awaited the reopening of export terminals in Libya.
As far as ICE Brent is concerned, tensions over in Ukraine will remain in focus with limited upside as market participants keep an eye on supply restarts in Libya.
On a technical basis, the Nymex oil market “remains in an uptrend, in line with its five-year seasonal index that shows the spot-month contract tends to rally 14% from its winter low through its spring high,” said Darin Newsom, DTN senior analyst. “This year the market posted a low weekly close of $92.72, setting a possibly high seasonal target of $105.70.”
On a fundamental basis, the market remains bullish.The market is again reflecting seasonal buying ahead of the heavier demand driving seasons of spring and summer.
Among the petroleum products Thursday, May gasoline fell 1 cent, or 0.4%, to $3 a gallon and May heating oil traded at $2.95 a gallon, less than half a penny lower on Nymex.
Natural-gas supply up less than expected.Natural-gas futures turned higher after a weekly update on U.S. supplies of the commodity in storage revealed the first increase of the year, but one that was smaller than the market expected.
May natural gas rose by 7 cents, or 1.6%, to $4.66 per million British thermal units. It was trading at $4.53 before the supply data.
The Energy Information Administration reported that supplies of natural gas rose 4 billion cubic feet for the week ended April 4. That was smaller than the market expected as analysts surveyed by Platts forecast an increase of between 13 billion cubic feet and 17 billion cubic feet.