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Oil ends week down 2% on tepid demand outlook
Aggregated Source: Shanghai Daily: Business

THE price of oil fell 2 percent this week, as oil traders worried about global demand and shared the stock market's concerns about possible changes to the Federal Reserve economic stimulus program.

The loss yesterday was just 10 cents, to US$94.15 a barrel. But four straight losses resulted in a weekly decline of US$1.87 a barrel for the US benchmark oil contract.

The global economic picture was clouded by weak manufacturing data from China. That raised questions about the strength of oil demand in the world's No. 2 economy. In the US, a report from the Energy Department showed the country is well-supplied with oil, and gasoline demand remains below year-ago levels.

One question overhanging the market is what the Federal Reserve's next moves will be with its monetary policy. Recent comments from Fed policy makers, including Chairman Ben Bernanke, raised concerns that the Fed will scale back its effort to support the economy sooner than traders had expected.

The uncertainty led US stock markets to their first weekly loss in a month. Oil tracked stocks for most of the week, as oil traders looked to their equities counterparts for clues on how to react to the Fed.

Brent crude, a benchmark for many international oil varieties, rose 20 cents to US$102.64 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange:

- Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to US$2.84 a gallon.

- Heating oil was flat at US$2.86 a gallon.

- Natural gas fell 2 cents to US$4.24 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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Copyright Shanghai Daily: Business