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New York, US (BBN) – Crude oil prices held weaker in Asia on Thursday even after trade data from China showed a solid gain in first quarter crude imports as investors focused on global demand and supply and shrugged off a drop in US inventories.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange crude futures for May delivery fell 0.19 per cent to $53.01 a barrel, while on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent eased 0.18 per cent to $55.76 a barrel, reports
China’s imports soared by 31.1 per cent in yuan terms, customs data showed on Thursday, with exports up 14.8 per cent for the first quarter from a year ago.
China reported a trade surplus of CNY454.94 billion in the period.
Customs is expected to release dollar-denominated trade data later on Thursday.
In dollar terms, exports rose 16.4 per cent year-on-year in March with imports soaring 20.3 per cent, both beating expectations, for a trade balance surplus of $23.9 billion, more than double the expected figure.
China’s crude oil imports rose 15 per cent in the first quarter compared with the same period a year earlier to 105 million metric tons, or 8.52 million barrels per day, the country’s General Administration of Customs said on Thursday.
Imports of refined products edged down 0.6 per cent in the first quarter from a year ago to 7.68 million tonnes.
Later, the Paris-based International Energy Agency will release its own estimates of crude supply and demand in March.
Overnight, crude futures settled lower on Wednesday, after the latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) report showed an unexpected drop in US crude stockpiles from record highs while production increased.
Oil prices spiked to the upside, after the headline US crude inventories number revealed an unexpected draw but gains were short lived, as investors shifted focus to the uptick in Cushing crude storage, which rose 276,00 barrels in the week.
For the week ending April 5, The EIA said that crude oil inventories fell by 2.166 million barrels compared to estimates of an increase of 87,000 barrels.
Compliance with the global deal to drain the glut in supply, averaged 104 per cent according to production figures published by OPEC.
In November last year, OPEC and other producers, including Russia agreed to cut output by about 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in an effort to combat the oversupply issue that has pressured prices over the last two years.