Oil prices slide

March 30th, 2012 - 5:06 am ICT by IANS  

New York, March 30 (IANS) Crude oil prices plunged Thursday amid rising expectations that the US and Europe will release strategic reserves.

Following the US and Britain, France said Wednesday that it was talking to the International Energy Agency (IEA) about releasing strategic petroleum reserves.

On Thursday, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said there was a good chance of an agreement between the US and Europe on this topic. Besides, South Korea and Japan may also join the plan, supporting reserves release.

The IEA, the international energy watchdog, said Thursday that “we remain ready to act if market conditions so warrant”, Xinhua reported.

As more and more investors and energy experts believed that emergency oil reserves would be released by the end of June, a widespread sell-off was triggered in the market, which seemed to have ignored the continuing Iran nuclear tension.

Meanwhile, ahead of the end of the quarter, investors preferred to taking profits, which also pressured crude prices. In the case of New York benchmark of WTI, after it dipped below technical supporting level of 50-day average, the declines accelerated.

On the economic front, US GDP growth for the fourth quarter of 2011 was revised to 3.0 percent, missing estimates. The initial jobless claims fell further by 5,000 to a four-year low.

Although the US economy improved, concerns about a slow-down of the US recovery lingered. And rising worries about a European economic recession also weighed on oil prices.

Light, sweet crude for May delivery fell $2.63, or 2.50 percent, to settle at $102.78 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude for May delivery slipped $1.77, or 1.43 percent, to close at $122.39 a barrel.

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