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Crude falls on mixed bag of U.S. data, soft earnings

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Shutterstock photo - - Crude futures fell on Thursday after a mixed bag of economic indicators and disappointing earnings clouded investors' views over the health of the U.S. economy.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude oil for delivery in June traded at $101.44 a barrel during U.S. trading, down 0.91%. New York-traded oil futures hit a session low of $101.28 a barrel and a high of $102.25 a barrel.

The June contract settled up 0.66% at $102.37 a barrel on Wednesday.

Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at $99.76 a barrel, Friday's low, and resistance at $102.64 a barrel, Wednesday's high.

Spotty data out of the U.S. softened crude futures by stoking fears the U.S. economy still battles headwinds that may crimp demand for fuel and energy.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said its manufacturing index ticked down to 15.4 this month from 16.6 in April, better than expectations for a 14.0 reading.

The data came after the U.S. Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending May 10 fell by 24,000 to 297,000 from the previous week's revised total of 321,000. Analysts had expected jobless claims to fall by 1,000 to 320,000 last week.

Elsewhere, the New York Fed said its manufacturing index climbed to a two-plus-year high of 19.01 in May from a reading of 1.29 in April, far surpassing market calls for a rise to 5.00 this month.

On the other hand, U.S. industrial production dropped 0.6% last month, confounding expectations for a 0.1% rise. March's figure was revised up to a 0.9% increase from a previously estimated 0.7% gain.

U.S consumer inflation rates came in better than expected as well, though concerns arose after investors digested the numbers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported earlier that the U.S. consumer price index rose to 0.3% in April from 0.2% in March, in line with market expectations.

The U.S. core consumer price index, which excludes food and energy items, rose by 0.2% last month, more than the expected 0.1% uptick, after a 0.2% gain in March.

On Thursday, however, the producer price index came in much better than expected, and the consumer inflation rate's inability to maintain the same pace as its wholesale counterpart softened the dollar somewhat by stoking concerns surrounding the strength of U.S. demand for goods and services.

The U.S. producer price index increased by 0.6% last month, beating forecasts for a 0.2% gain, after rising 0.5% in March.

The core producer price index advanced 0.5% last month, compared to expectations for a 0.2% increase, after rising 0.6% in March.

Also pressuring prices lower, retailers Wal-Mart and Kohl's reported first-quarter numbers that disappointed investors, which further fueled concerns that demand in the U.S. remains soft.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for July delivery were down 0.30% and trading at US$108.99 a barrel, while the spread between the Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at US$7.55 a barrel. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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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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