Global crude oil prices slipped on Thursday on both sides of the Atlantic, pressured by weaker economic data from China as well as the prospect of a rebound in oil exports from Libya.
Chinese exports fell unexpectedly in March for a second straight month and imports dropped sharply, intensifying expectations of weaker manufacturing and slowing growth in the world's No. 2 economy. China's crude imports fell to a five-month low, but rose 2 percent on year.
Meanwhile, Libya took another step toward increasing oil exports as national oil officials lifted a force majeure on the North African country's easternmost port of Hariga, a port that had been blockaded for nine-months as part of a dispute between the government and rebel groups. However, a force majeure remained in effect at Zueitina, the other recently reopened port.
Additional bearish data came from OPEC as it lowered its forecast demand for crude oil in 2014 and ended a run of upward revisions to global oil consumption growth.
U.S. jobless claims fell to their lowest level in 7 years, capping losses in New York crude oil futures. But it was not enough to outweigh data released on Wednesday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration that showed U.S. crude oil stocks jumped by 4 million barrels last week.
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