Oil slides on concerns that higher inflation in China may restrain growth

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Oil prices fell Friday on concern that China’s government could limit economic stimulus measures because of higher inflation.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude dropped 26 cents to finish at US$93.56 a barrel in New York. A day earlier, a report showing a rebound in China’s trade growth boosted oil because it suggested a possible recovery in global demand.

Friday’s data showed China’s inflation spiked to a six-month high in December. Higher inflation could hamper Beijing’s ability to support the country’s economic recovery.

Reports that Saudi Arabia produced nine million barrels of crude oil in December, 500,000 barrels less than the previous month, kept prices from falling further. Official figures will be released next Wednesday in OPEC’s monthly oil market report.

Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, fell $1.25 to end at US$110.64 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on New York Mercantile Exchange, wholesale gasoline fell five cents to finish at US$2.74 a U.S. gallon (3.79 litres), heating oil lost five cents to end at US$3.01 a gallon and natural gas rose 13 cents to finish at US$3.33 per 1,000 cubic feet, its second day of strong gains after starting the year with a decline of about seven per cent.