LONDON (AP) — Oil prices fell toward $104 a barrel Monday on expectations that slowing economic growth in the U.S. and China and ongoing debt problems in Europe will undermine demand for crude.
Benchmark oil for June delivery was down 72 cents to $104.21 a barrel by midday European time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 38 cents to settle at $104.93 in New York on Friday.
Brent crude for June delivery was down 71 cents at $119.10 per barrel in London.
The Commerce Department said Friday that the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the January-March quarter, compared with 3 percent in the final quarter of 2011. Earlier this month, China reported its gross domestic product growth slowed to 8.1 percent in the first quarter.
Crude jumped from $75 in October to $110 last month as better than expected U.S. economic activity and strong demand from developing countries such as China bolstered investor confidence.
"The disappointing GDP data continued a trend of recent weeks in which economic releases have been tilting toward the bearish side," energy trader and consultant Ritterbusch and Associates said in a report. "This has conjured up images of further petroleum demand slippage especially when combined with slowed growth indications out of China."
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