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Crude falls as U.S. trade deficit widens, fears demand may wane

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Shutterstock photo - Crude oil futures fell on Friday after data revealed the U.S. ran a wider trade deficit than expected in November.

Fears that demand for fuels and energy may ease sent prices falling as well.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for delivery in February traded at USD93.36 a barrel on Friday, down 0.49%, off from a session high of USD94.10 and up from an earlier session low of USD92.67.

The U.S. government reported earlier that the country's trade deficit widened unexpectedly in November, expanding to USD48.7 billion from a USD42.1 billion deficit during the previous month.

Analysts had expected the trade deficit to narrow to USD41.3 billion in November, which sent oil prices falling on concerns the U.S. economy continues recovering albeit sluggishly.

The commodity did see some support, as gains in imports of consumer goods painted a picture of improving consumer demand in the U.S.

Consumer spending drives about 70% of total U.S. economic output.

Fears demand for oil may cool kept prices in negative territory as well.

Saudi Arabia said earlier this week that it had cut its crude oil production by about 700,000 barrels per day over the last two months of 2012, bringing December output at around 9 million barrels per day, Reuters reported, quoting an industry source familiar with the country's oil policy.

Saudi Arabia over the past year ramped up production to offset any output snags should tensions with Israel and Iran escalate into military conflict and disrupt supply, though talk the oil-rich kingdom cut output to account for still sluggish demand amid a tepid global recovery allowed crude prices to soften.

Meanwhile, China's consumer price index rose more than expected in December, official data showed on Friday.

In a report, National Bureau of Statistics of China reported that the country's December CPI rose 2.5% on year from 2.0% in the preceding month.

Analysts had expected the Chinese CPI to rise by 2.3% last month.

The numbers sparked talk that Beijing may hold off on plans to roll out economic stimulus measures, which tend to push up demand for oil.

Meanwhile on the ICE Futures Exchange, Brent oil futures for February delivery were down 1.35% at USD110.38 a barrel, up USD17.02 from its U.S. counterpart. - offers an extensive set of professional tools for the Forex, Commodities, Futures and the Stock Market including real-time data streaming, a comprehensive economic calendar, as well as financial news and technical & fundamental analysis by in-house experts.

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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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