West TX Oil Around $48 as China Data Weighs

U.S. crude futures dropped towards $48 a barrel on Monday after last week rising for the first time in eight weeks, with weak Chinese housing data keeping prices under pressure.

U.S. crude for February delivery was off 14 cents at $48.55 a barrel by 0101 GMT, after hitting a low of $48.37. The contract, which expires on Tuesday, climbed 0.7 percent last week.  March Brent crude slipped 22 cents to $49.95 a barrel.  Trading liquidity is expected to be lean with U.S. markets shut for the Martin Luther King holiday.

China’s new home prices fell significantly in December for a fourth straight month even as year-end sales volumes surged. Sunday’s gloomy data foreshadowed weak economic figures set for Tuesday, with expansion expected to slow to 7.2 percent, the weakest since the depths of the global financial crisis.


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