Oil falls below $93 after weak China trade data

Associated Press

SINGAPORE (AP) — Oil fell below $93 a barrel Friday in Asia as weak Chinese trade figures suggested growth continues to slow in the world's second-largest economy.

Benchmark crude was down 91 cents to $92.45 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 1 cent on Thursday to settle at $93.36 in New York.

In London, Brent crude was down $1.08 at $112.14 on the ICE Futures exchange.

China said Friday that the country's exports grew just 1 percent in July from a year earlier while import growth slowed to 4.7 percent. China's booming economy and voracious appetite for commodities has helped oil surge from $10 in 1998.

This week crude prices have drifted slightly higher after better than expected U.S. jobs creation in July was reported late last week. Some analysts expect signs of lower U.S. crude supplies and weaker than expected global oil production will push prices higher.

Oil has been supported by "a recent sharp drop in U.S. supply, a continued tight European crude market and reports of slippage in Saudi production," energy trader and consultant Ritterbusch and Associates said in a report. "We are still seeing the possibility of fresh highs across the oil market with crude benchmarks advancing by another couple of dollars."

In other Nymex energy trading, wholesale gasoline futures were up marginally $3.00 a gallon and heating oil slipped slightly to $3.03. Natural gas was down less than 0.1 cents at $2.93 per 1,000 cubic feet.