Oil Below $102 on Weak US Economic Data


The price of oil fell below $102 a barrel Thursday, as weak economic data in the U.S. suggested demand for crude could fall.

Benchmark U.S. crude for June delivery fell 87 cents to close at $101.50 a barrel in New York.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil used by many U.S. refineries, rose 25 cents to close at $110.44 a barrel in London.

Oil slipped after the Federal Reserve said Thursday that U.S. industrial production dropped in April. The decline in activity, along with weak retail-sales data released earlier in the week, suggested demand for U.S. crude may not be as strong as expected.

Also, stockpiles of oil rose by 900,000 barrels last week, while analysts had been expecting a drop.

A stronger dollar also weighed on prices, making crude priced in dollars more expensive — and a less attractive investment — for traders using other currencies.

Brent crude was lifted by the continued absence of Libyan crude from the market as a result of disputes at export terminals, and a forecast for higher global demand by the International Energy Agency. The Paris-based IEA raised its forecast for 2014 global crude demand to 92.8 million barrels a day, 65,000 barrels a day more than its previous forecast a month ago.

“While OPEC has more than enough capacity to deliver, it remains to be seen whether it will manage to overcome the above-ground hurdles that have plagued some of its member countries lately,” the IEA said in its monthly Oil Market Report.

The average retail price of gasoline rose less than a penny to $3.64 per gallon.

In other energy futures trading in New York:

— Wholesale gasoline fell 0.5 cents to close at $2.964 a gallon.

— Natural gas rose 10.2 cents to close at $4.469 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil fell 1.2 cents to close at $2.951 a gallon.