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Oil holds above $74 as China exports surge

Singapore, June 10, 2010

Oil pared losses and held above $74 after data showing Chinese overall exports surged in May offset weaker demand readings in top consumer the US.

China's exports rose 48.5 per cent in May from a year earlier, the General Administration of Customs said on Thursday, beating forecasts of a 32 per cent gain and confirming a Reuters report on Wednesday on the export figure which helped send oil up more than 3 per cent.

Investors on Thursday were 'profit taking' after prices on Wednesday approached 'resistance' at $75 a barrel, a level not surpassed since June 4, said Jonathan Barratt, managing director at Commodity Broking Services in Sydney.

US crude for July was at $74.22 a barrel at 0330 GMT, down 16 cents from Wednesday's close, after trading as low as $73.72 before the exports data came out. ICE Brent declined 28 cents to $73.99.

China will release May industrial production data on Friday, forecast at 17.1 per cent in a Reuters survey, down from a 17.8 per cent gain in April. As in the case of exports, investors will look for evidence that the economy of the world's second-largest oil user keeps roaring ahead.

'If we continue to see a follow through in the data tomorrow, that will be the litmus paper test to show that China is with us and that growth remains robust,' Barratt said.

Prices of US crude have recovered almost $10 from below $65 on May 20, but are still down 15 per cent from a 19-month peak on May 3.

US crude inventories last week dropped a larger than expected 1.8 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.

That was the same amount by which stockpiles of distillates including heating oil and diesel increased as distillate demand slowed, showing a gain of 9.3 per cent in the four weeks ended June 4, compared to 17 per cent in the four weeks to May 28.

'Refiners ran more crude, which was bullish,' said Mike Wittner, head of oil research at Societe Generale in London, in a note to clients.

'However, this put downward pressure on an already well supplied distillate market. Weekly distillate demand ran out of steam and couldn't absorb the growing supply.'     US gasoline supplies were little changed last week, the EIA said. – Reuters




Tags: Oil | Singapore | price | EIA | US crude | China exports |

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