Crude Heads Lower as China GDP Growth Disappoints


Oil prices fell on Friday and headed for a weekly loss after data showed No. 2 oil consumer China's economy grew at its weakest pace in nearly three years in the first quarter, reinforcing concerns about slowing demand for petroleum.

A stronger dollar and a slip in U.S. consumer confidence in April added pressure on oil prices and equities on Wall Street and key industrial feedstock copper also were weighed down by the slip in Chinese economic growth.

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Caution ahead of talks between Iran and five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany about Tehran's disputed nuclear program and news of falling North Sea oil production were expected to limit losses heading into the weekend.

"The Chinese numbers were a little bit disappointing ...(but) we're not heading into a new substantial downward trend," said Tony Machacek, an oil futures broker at Jefferies Bache Ltd. "There's still quite a few geopolitical issues knocking about."

Expiring May Brent crude fell 65 cents to $121.06 a barrel by 10:44 a.m. EDT (1444 GMT), having traded from $120.77 to $121.88.

Brent crude for June delivery fell 84 cents to $120.68 a barrel.

U.S. May crude fell 64 cents to $103, having traded from $102.61 to $103.90. A finish below $103.31 is necessary to avoid posting a weekly loss.