Oil prices fell on Thursday after weak Japanese data sounded alarm bells over the prospects for global growth, outweighing the bullish impact of a weaker dollar and a bigger-than-expected decline in U.S. crude oil stocks.
Japan’s exports slowed for a second straight month in August in a sign China’s economic slowdown could be damaging the world’s third-biggest economy.
The data follows worrying figures from other Asian economies, including South Korea and Taiwan, increasing anxiety over the consequences of a sharp slowdown in China.
North Sea Brent crude LCOc1 was down 50 cents at $49.25 a barrel by 1305 GMT, after hitting an early high of $50.14. U.S. light crude oil CLc1 was down 20 cents at $46.95 a barrel.
Both global benchmarks had rallied sharply over the last three days as the dollar weakened on expectations that the U.S. central bank, the Federal Reserve, would maintain interest rates at their current, very low, levels.
The Federal Reserve was due to issue a policy statement at 2 p.m. EDT on Thursday and economists saw about a one-in-four chance of a U.S. rate increase.