The price of oil slipped slightly on Tuesday as the market weighed potentially weaker global economic growth against continued disruptions of Libyan crude supplies.
Benchmark oil for May delivery fell 41 cents to close at $99.19 in New York. Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude used by many U.S. refineries, rose 7 cents to close at $106.99 in London.
U.S. and Brent crude have hovered in narrow ranges over the past week as supply and demand concerns have balanced each other out. Global supplies have tightened somewhat as Libyan crude exports have fallen, but the world may need less oil if economic growth in China and Russia slows.
Energy analyst Jim Ritterbusch wrote in a report Tuesday that trading patterns were sending off "signals of a balanced oil market."
The U.S. and other Group of Seven countries vowed to launch coordinated sanctions on key parts of the Russian economy, which could include the energy industry, if Russian President Vladimir Putin presses further into Ukraine after the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. While that could eventually reduce Russian oil production, it could also reduce Russian demand for diesel, gasoline and jet fuel if the sanctions crimp the Russian economy.
A report on factory activity in China fell to an eight-year low in March, suggesting a further slowdown of the world's second-biggest economy and a possible decline in oil demand growth. A similar index for the U.S. fell from a four-year high.
The Libya oil industry, meanwhile, continues to have production problems. The flow of its high-quality crude, which is coveted by European refiners, has been on-again, off-again since the 2011 civil war which ousted Moammar Gadhafi. For now, it has all but dried up.
Continue reading this story on the...