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Oil down modestly as Venezuela still in focus

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Investing.com - Oil futures fell slightly in the early part of Thursday's Asian session despite some solid data points released Wednesday in the U.S. as crude traders continue to mull the impact of the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for April delivery fell 0.03% to USD90.41 in Asian trading Thursday after falling 1.22% to USD89.71 a barrel on Wednesday in the U.S. That decline was prompted by weekly inventories data.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that U.S. crude oil inventories rose by 3.8 million barrels in the week ended March 1, well beyond market calls for an increase of 526,000 barrels.

Traders focused more on the inventory data than economic news out of the world's largest oil consumer. In U.S. economic news, the ADP private payroll survey showed non-government U.S. employers added 198,000 new jobs last month, topping estimates for a gain of 173,000 private sector jobs. The Labor Department delivers the February jobs report on Friday before the open of U.S. markets.

January's figure was revised up to a gain of 215,000 from a previously reported increase of 192,000. Elsewhere, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that factory orders fell by 2% in January, less than market calls for a drop of 2.2%

Traders are also still pondering what the near- and long-term outlooks for crude will be now that Chavez has passed. Vice President Nicolas Maduro succeeds Chavez and it is widely expected that Maduro, like his predecessor, will use oil as a political weapon.

Despite the fact that Venezuela is home to the world's largest oil reserves, the country has not appropriately invested in energy infrastructure, so any increased supply from the South American nation is years from coming to market.

Elsewhere, Brent for April delivery fell 0.09% to USD110.96 per barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange.

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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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