Oil dropped for the first time in three days, erasing a weekly gain, after China’s economy grew at the slowest pace in 11 quarters and Saudi Arabia’s oil minister said the kingdom is determined to see lower prices.
Futures fell as much as 0.8 percent after government data today showed China’s gross domestic product expanded 8.1 percent from a year earlier in the first quarter, after an 8.9 percent gain in the final three months of 2011. Industrial output rose at a faster pace in March, while retail sales growth accelerated. Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, considers prices too high and is working toward damping them, Minister Ali al-Naimi said today.
“The market is still range-trading, albeit in a slightly lower range than previously,” said Christopher Bellew, a senior broker at Jefferies Bache Ltd., who predicts Brent crude will remain supported at $119 a barrel. “Despite today’s GDP number, expectations are still that the Chinese economy will have a soft landing.”
Crude for May delivery fell as much as 78 cents to $102.86 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $103.16 at 10:50 a.m. London time.