The price of oil sank to near US$101 Monday after a surprise drop in China’s exports suggested demand for crude could weaken.
Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery fell $1.46 to US$101.12 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, fell 92 cents to US$108.08 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
China’s customs data showed over the weekend that exports plunged by an unexpectedly large 18 per cent last month. Robust trade is crucial in helping China achieve its official economic growth target of 7.5 per cent for this year.
However, exports in February last year might have been overstated by exporters inflating sales figures as an excuse to evade currency controls and bring extra money into China.
Tension over Russia’s military incursion into Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and Libya’s sustained struggles to normalize its oil production and export activities boosted supply risks and kept prices from falling further.
In other energy futures trading on Nymex: wholesale gasoline fell two cents to US$2.95 a U.S. gallon (3.79 litres), heating oil dropped five cents to US$2.97 a gallon and natural gas gained three cents to US$4.65 per 1,000 cubic feet.