West Texas Intermediate slipped from near its highest in five weeks after more Americans than projected filed applications for unemployment benefits.
Futures reversed an earlier increase of 0.4 percent in New York. First-time jobless claims rose by 16,000 to 357,000 in the week ended March 23, the highest level in more than a month, Labor Department data showed today in Washington. The U.S. economy slowed less than previously estimated in the fourth quarter, according to the Commerce Department.
“The macro backdrop has become more mixed compared to earlier in the year, and prices are reflecting the more uncertain macro outlook,’ said Amrita Sen, chief oil market strategist at Energy Aspects Ltd., a research company in London.
WTI for May delivery slipped as much as 32 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $96.26 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, and was at $96.39 at 12:37 p.m. London time. The volume of all futures traded was 37 percent below the 100-day average. The contract rose 0.3 percent yesterday to $96.58, the highest close since Feb. 19. Prices are set for their fourth weekly gain and are 4.8 percent higher this month.
Brent for May settlement was at $109.16 a barrel, down 53 cents, on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The volume of all contracts traded was 8 percent below the 100-day average. The European benchmark grade was at a premium of $12.77 to WTI. It settled at $13.02 on March 26, the narrowest closing level since July.
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