Oil prices slide after poor US, Europe data.
World oil prices tumbled Tuesday after weak US manufacturing data and downbeat European economic reports raised fresh concerns about crude oil demand. New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for June delivery, settled at $93.46 a barrel, down $1.04 from Monday's close. The European benchmark, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in June, fell $1.44, closing at $102.37 a barrel in London trade. The WTI contract fell sharply in early US trade after an index on US manufacturing activity in the Chicago area unexpectedly dived into contraction territory in April. "What really knocked sentiment... was the latest Chicago PMI reading which plunged to its lowest since September 2009," said Fawad Razaqzada, an oil market analyst at GFT Markets. On the other side of the Atlantic, eurozone data showed the unemployment rate hit a record 12.1 percent and inflation eased to 1.2 percent, while retail sales fell in Germany, Europe's biggest economy. "The market is just concerned that not only the US economy but also the global economy may be moderating somewhat and that implies slower demand down the road," said Bart Melek of TD Securities. Markets also awaited the outcome of key central bank policy meetings this week, with expectations that stimulus will keep flowing in a bid to prop up economic growth. The US Federal Reserve's policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will wrap up a two-day meeting Wednesday. It is widely expected to maintain its ultra-low interest rates and $85 billion a month bond-purchase program. The European Central Bank will unveil its latest interest rate decision Thursday. Most analysts predicted the ECB will cut its key interest rate, which is already at an all-time low of 0.75 percent.
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