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U.S. oil futures rise to 2-week high despite retail sales miss

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Shutterstock photo - - U.S. oil futures rose to a two-week high on Tuesday, as investors shrugged off weaker than expected U.S. retail sales data for April released earlier in the day.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude oil for delivery in June advanced 0.57%, or 57 cents, to trade at $101.16 a barrel during U.S. morning hours.

Nymex oil rose to $101.51 a barrel earlier in the day, the most since April 29. Futures added 0.6%, or 60 cents, on Monday to settle at $100.59 a barrel.

New York-traded oil futures were likely to find support at $99.71 a barrel, the low from May 9 and resistance at $102.19 a barrel, the high from April 29.

The U.S. Commerce Department said that retail sales inched up by a seasonally adjusted 0.1% last month, missing expectations for a 0.4% increase. Retail sales for March were revised up to a 1.5% gain from a previously reported increase of 1.2%.

Rising retail sales over time correlate with stronger economic growth, while weaker sales signal a declining economy.

Core retail sales, which exclude automobile sales, were flat in April, disappointing forecasts for a 0.6% increase. Core sales in March were revised up to a rise of 1% from a previously reported increase of 0.7%.

Core sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of the government's gross domestic product report. Consumer spending accounts for as much as 70% of U.S. economic growth.

Oil traders now looked ahead to weekly supply data out of the U.S. to gauge the strength of oil demand from the world's largest consumer.

The American Petroleum Institute will release its inventories report later in the day, while Wednesday's government report could show crude stockpiles declined by 0.5 million barrels in the week ended May 9.

Oil prices were weaker during the Asian trading session after data showed that Chinese industrial production and retail sales rose less than expected in April, adding to concerns over a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.

The Asian nation is the world's second largest oil consumer after the U.S. and has been the engine of strengthening demand.

Meanwhile, investors remained cautious after pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk said they may hold a second referendum on joining Russia, similar to the one in Crimea.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil for July delivery inched up 0.21%, or 23 cents, to trade at $108.02 a barrel, while the spread between the Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at $6.86 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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