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Brent Crude Trades Near Nine-Month Low on Slowing Economy

Brent crude traded near its lowest settlement in nine months as Italy unexpectedly slipped into recession and the dollar strengthened. West Texas Intermediate was steady.

The North Sea grade rose 0.3 percent in London. Italian gross domestic product dropped in the second quarter. The dollar rose to the strongest level in almost nine months versus the euro, undermining the appeal of commodities for protecting against inflation. U.S. crude inventories slid by 1.55 million barrels last week, according to a Bloomberg News survey before Energy Information Administration data today.

“Crude oil prices are heading into an exhaustion phase as the global macroeconomic picture looks fairly gloomy,” Myrto Sokou, senior analyst at Sucden Financial Ltd. in London, said by e-mail. “The oil fundamental picture is fairly bearish as well.”

Brent for September settlement traded for $104.94 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, 33 cents higher at 1:40 p.m. London time. It closed at $104.61 a barrel yesterday, the lowest since Nov. 7. The European benchmark crude was at a premium of $7.28 to WTI. It closed at $7.23 yesterday.

WTI for September delivery traded 27 cents higher at $97.65 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dropped 0.9 percent to $97.38 yesterday, matching the Feb. 5 close. The volume of all futures traded was about 43 percent below the 100-day average for the time of day.

Brent Recovery

“Brent is recovering today partly as a technical correction but more because of the geopolitical risk from supply threats in Iraq and Libya,” Christopher Bellew, senior broker at Jefferies LLC in London, said by e-mail.

Libya’s National Oil Corp. is in talks to resume exports from the Es Sider port, according to Mohamed Elharari, a spokesman for the state-run company. Shipments from the Ras Lanuf terminal will start this week, Elharari said yesterday. The facilities were handed over last month by rebels seeking self-rule in the east of the country.

Italy’s economy shrank 0.2 percent in the second quarter after contracting 0.1 percent in the previous three months, the national statistics institute Istat said in Rome today.

The U.S. currency rose against most major peers after Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher said yesterday his fellow policy makers were becoming more “hawkish.” The dollar advanced 0.2 percent to $1.3352 per euro as of 1:34 p.m. London time after appreciating to $1.3333, the strongest level since Nov. 11.

Crude supplies shrank by 5.5 million barrels last week, the American Petroleum Institute was said to report yesterday.

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