Crude oil prices fell last Friday, but managed to recoup most of the losses after plunging on data that showed recent U.S. job gains nearly stopped in February.
Crude futures were also under pressure after data showed a slump in Chinese imports and exports last month and the European Central Bank slashed its outlook for economic growth on the continent.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 66 cents, or 1.2%, to $56 a barrel. WTI earlier fell more than 3% to a three-week low of $54.52/Bbl, Kallanish Energy reports.
Brent crude futures were down 54 cents, or nearly 1%, to $65.76/Bbl at roughly 2:30 ET, bouncing from a three-week low of $64.02/Bbl.
Crude futures extended losses in early morning trade after U.S. government data showed the country added just 20,000 jobs in February, compared with estimates for a gain of 180,000 positions.
Also in February, China’s exports fell nearly 21%, and its imports slipped roughly 5%, data released Friday showed. The trade figures raise new concerns about the world’s second largest economy.
Despite the negative figures, Chinese crude oil imports jumped 21.6%, to 10.23 million barrels per day (Mmbpd) — the third-highest volume on record, according to Reuters analysis.
Last Thursday, crude oil futures came under pressure after Europe’s central bank cuts its growth projection to 1.1%, down from its last forecast for 1.7% expansion.
The oil market has also struggled to post gains this week in the face of strong U.S. production and a buildup in the nation’s crude stockpiles.
American drillers are pumping at a record 12.1 Mmbpd, according to preliminary weekly Energy Information Administration data. Meanwhile, U.S. crude oil inventories surged by 7.1 million barrels in the week ended March 1, EIA reported.
Rising U.S. output is offsetting efforts by major oil producers to drain oversupply from the market. Opec and its allies including Russia are trying to remove 1.2 Mmbpd from the market during the first six months of the year, following a collapse in crude prices in the final months of 2018.
The supply curbs have helped to boost oil prices by roughly 20% this year. U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela’s state oil firm, Pdvsa, have also tightened global supplies.
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