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Crude drops as U.S. data fans fears of a growing supply glut

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Shutterstock photo - Oil prices plunged on Friday, extending Thursday's losses after weak U.S. confidence and retail data stoked fears that global supply far exceeds apparently sluggish demand.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light sweet crude futures for delivery in May traded down 2.65% at USD91.03 a barrel on Friday, off from a session high of USD93.52 and up from an earlier session low of USD90.30.

In the U.S. earlier, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary consumer sentiment index dropped to a 9-month low in April, falling to 72.3 from 78.6 in the previous month.

Analysts were expecting the index to tick down to 78.5 this month.

Elsewhere, official data revealed that retail sales in the U.S. fell 0.4% in March, defying expectations for a 0.1% rise after a 1% increase the previous month.

Core retail sales, which are stripped of volatile automobile sales, also dipped 0.4% last month after a 1% increase in February, missing similar expectations for a 0.1% rise.

The Labor Department, meanwhile, reported that the U.S. producer price index fell 0.6% in March, more than an expected 0.2% decline and way off a 0.7% gain the previous month.

The core producer price index rose 0.2% last month, in line with expectations, following a 0.2% increase in February.

Weak data in the world's largest output fueled fears that the global economy still faces headwinds as it limps along the road to recovery and may demand less fuels and energy than once thought, while supplies remain ample.

Earlier this week, the International Energy Agency reduced its estimate for global oil demand by 45,000 barrels a day in 2013 to 795,000 barrels a day, the latest string of data to push down oil prices.

Also, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries cut its forecast for global oil demand growth by 40,000 barrels a day to 800,000 barrels in 2013, the second downward revision in two months.

Meanwhile back in the U.S., the Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report on Wednesday that U.S. crude oil inventories rose by 250,000 barrels in the week ended April 5, well below expectations for an increase of 1.4 million barrels, though market participants still viewed the country as awash in oil.

Total U.S. crude oil inventories stood at 388.9 million barrels as of last week, the highest level since 1990.

Elsewhere on the ICE Futures Exchange, Brent oil futures for May delivery were down 1.93% at USD102.25 a barrel, up USD11.22 from its U.S. counterpart.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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