Oil prices were lower in Asian trade today as investors took profit following gains last week driven by encouraging economic data from the United States and China.

New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February, shed 30 cents to $95.26 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for March delivery dropped 28 cents to $111.61.

China announced today that while economic growth slowed for the second straight year in 2012, output climbed 7.9 per cent higher in the fourth quarter compared with the year-ago period. The report came on the heels of better-than-expected US data on jobless claims and housing starts.

Prices were also given support last week by concerns over the seizure by radical Islamists of a gas plant in the Algerian desert.

Algeria is a member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and there were fears of supply disruptions. However, the crisis came to a bloody end at the week-end in a showdown between the extremists and Algerian troops.

(This article was published on January 21, 2013)
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