Oil price falls below $92 a barrel amid weak industrial production from China and France

BANGKOK – The price of oil fell below US$92 per barrel Tuesday as traders absorbed the impact of choppy economic data from China and stock markets showed signs of fatigue after big gains.

Benchmark oil for April delivery was down 18 cents to $91.88 per barrel at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 11 cents to end at $92.06 a barrel on the Nymex on Monday.

Disappointing French industrial production data coupled with weaker indicators from China over the weekend on retail sales and industrial production, weighed on oil markets.

Michael Hewson of CMC Markets said that prices “continue to remain under pressure, largely on the back of the disappointing Chinese data, as well as the poor French numbers.”

Hewson said that a “slightly stronger US dollar” is also checking oil prices in check. A stronger dollar makes oil a less enticing investment for traders using other currencies, since oil is traded in dollars.

Many traders believe the large supply of oil in the U.S. is keeping a lid on prices. Last week, the Energy Department said that the nation’s supply of crude is 10.3 per cent above year-ago levels. And U.S. oil production, at more than 7 million barrels a day, is at the highest level since the late 1990s.

Stock markets wilted Tuesday in Asia, following a slide in European shares Monday. The Dow, though, added one more session of gains for a seven-day streak.

Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by U.S. refineries, fell 32 cents to $109.90 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline fell 0.6 cents to $3.147 a gallon.

— Heating oil slipped 1.1 cents to $2.958 a gallon.

— Natural gas rose 1.6 cents to $3.665 per 1,000 cubic feet.