West Texas Intermediate and Brent crudes fell for the first time in three days after exports from China unexpectedly shrank, stoking speculation the world’s second-largest oil consumer may miss economic growth targets.
Futures lost as much as 1.5 percent in New York. China’s overseas shipments declined by 18.1 percent in February from a year earlier, the biggest drop since August 2009, the General Administration of Customs reported on March 8. A median 7.5 percent increase was projected in a Bloomberg News survey of 45 economists. WTI rose 1 percent on March 7, the most in four days, as hedge funds increased bullish bets.
“Falling Chinese exports could be seen as sign of a slowing global economy,” said Carsten Fritsch, an analyst at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt. While the data has “spooked the oil market,” the Chinese economy is still forecast to expand by 7.3 percent this year, he said.
WTI for April delivery slid as much as $1.53 to $101.05 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $101.39 as of 10:44 a.m. London time. Prices were stable last week, snapping a seven-week advance. The volume of all futures traded was 14 percent more than the 100-day average.
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