The price of oil slipped closer to $95 a barrel Wednesday as investors weighed a rise in China's trade data against expectations of another increase in U.S. crude supplies.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark crude for June delivery was down 17 cents to $95.45 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 54 cents to finish at $95.62 per barrel on Tuesday.
China said its exports for April rose 14.7 percent over a year earlier while imports gained 16.8 percent. Both figures represented an acceleration of growth compared with March.
The figures suggest China's economic growth might be improving after an unexpected decline to 7.7 percent in the first three months of the year from the previous quarter's 7.9 percent.
Later Wednesday, the U.S. Energy Department will release its weekly report on U.S. oil inventories, the market benchmark. Analysts surveyed by Platts expect an increase in supplies of 1.9 million barrels in the week ended May 3.
Brent crude, which is the benchmark for international oil varieties, was down 65 cents to $103.75 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:
-- Wholesale gasoline dropped 2.04 cents to $2.813 a gallon.
-- Heating oil fell 2.01 cents to $2.9076 a gallon.
-- Natural gas added 1.8 cents to $3.938 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Pamela Sampson in Bangkok contributed to this report.
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