Oil down ahead of expected cut to US growth in 4Q

The Associated Press

The price of oil fell in Asia on Friday ahead of an expected cut to the government estimate of U.S. economic growth last quarter.

Benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery was down 38 cents to $102.02 a barrel at 0835 GMT in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract closed 19 cents lower on Thursday at $102.40.

The U.S. Commerce Department is scheduled to release revised economic growth figures later Friday. Analysts expect the October-December growth rate will be cut to an annualized 2.5 percent from an initial estimate of a 3.2 percent.

The price of oil rose above $100 this past winter amid expectations that demand for heating oil would rise in the U.S. due to the severely cold weather.

Looking ahead, investors will watch for measures from China to boost growth as policymakers are scheduled to hold an annual legislative meeting next month. In Japan, investors want to see if the economy is resilient enough to absorb a sales tax increase in April.

Brent crude, which is used to set prices for international varieties of crude, shed 33 cents to $108.63 on the ICE exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline was down 0.4 cent at $2.957 per gallon.

— Heating oil inched up 0.1 cent to $3.01 per gallon.

— Natural gas lost 2 cents to $4.482 per 1,000 cubic feet.