BANGKOK – The price of oil fell to near $93 a barrel Friday ahead of quarterly growth figures from the world's biggest economy.
Benchmark oil for June delivery was down 62 cents to $93.02 per barrel at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $2.21 to close at $93.64 on Thursday after the U.S. Labor Department said the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week by 16,000, suggesting that layoffs have declined.
Traders turned slightly cautious ahead of first quarter U.S. economic growth due later Friday. Economists expect to see a significant improvement from the anemic 0.4 percent growth rate reported for the October-December quarter.
But analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong said the result "is unlikely to allay market concerns after a recent run of disappointing data indicates some decline in growth momentum." Recent reports have suggested that manufacturing is starting to weaken. Sales of previously occupied U.S. homes dipped in March.
Brent crude, which is used to price oil used by many U.S. refiners, fell 50 cents to $102.91 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:
— Gasoline fell 0.1 cent to $2.801 per gallon.
— Heating oil fell 1.5 cents to $2.872 a gallon.
— Natural gas lost 1.5 cents to $4.152 per 1,000 cubic feet.