Oil Drops, Paring Biggest Gain Since March on Japanese Output

Oil fell in New York, paring its biggest weekly gain since March, as a drop in Japanese industrial output prompted traders to lock in profits from yesterday’s price surge.

Futures slid as much as 1.5 percent after Japanese factory production declined 4 percent in September, almost twice as much as the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Oil rallied yesterday after data showed the U.S. economy grew in the third quarter at the fastest pace in a year and European leaders agreed on a plan to curb the region’s debt crisis.

“The Japanese data is pouring some cold water of economic reality over the euphoria that erupted in the market yesterday,” said James Zhang, a strategist at Standard Bank Plc in London, who forecasts Brent will average $98 a barrel this quarter. “There’s also some profit-taking after the relief rally yesterday.”

Crude for December delivery decreased as much as $1.95 to $92.01 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was at $92.60 at 1:04 p.m. London time. Yesterday, the contract advanced $3.76 to $93.96, the highest settlement since Aug. 1. Prices are 6 percent higher this week, set for the biggest gain since the period ended March 4, and have climbed 17 percent this month, the most since May 2009.

Brent oil for December settlement on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange lost as much as $1.85, or 1.7 percent, to $110.23 a barrel, trimming this week’s gain to 1.3 percent. The European benchmark contract was at a premium of $18.35 to New York crude, compared with settlements of $18.12 yesterday and a record high of $27.88 on Oct. 14.

U.S. Growth

The U.S. economy, the world’s largest, expanded at a 2.5 percent annual rate, up from 1.3 percent in the prior three months, Commerce Department data showed yesterday. Household purchases, the biggest contributor to gross domestic product, rose at a 2.4 percent pace, more than forecast by economists.

European leaders pressured bondholders into accepting 50 percent writedowns on Greek debt and agreed to boost a rescue fund to 1 trillion euros ($1.4 trillion) in a package intended to tame a crisis that threatens to slow the global economy and curb demand for commodities.

The U.S. is the world’s biggest oil consumer, using 19.1 million barrels a day in 2010, or 21 percent of global consumption, according to BP Plc’s annual Statistical Review of World Energy. The European Union accounted for 16 percent of the total and Japan for 5 percent.

Further Declines

New York crude may fall next week on concern European leaders’ plans to fight the debt crisis may provide limited relief, based on a Bloomberg News survey. Fourteen of 29 analysts and traders, or 48 percent, forecast oil will decline through Nov. 4. Six predicted a price gain and nine said there will be little change.

Brent crude oil, which has gained 17 percent this year, may slump as limited gains this week signal that its rally has almost run out of momentum, according to Commerzbank AG.

“The price of Brent has barely gained since the start of the week,” Carsten Fritsch, a Frankfurt-based Commerzbank analyst, said in a report today. “This could be an indication that the upward potential for Brent is virtually exhausted and a price slump can be expected once the excessive euphoria on financial markets at present starts to fade.”

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