On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for May delivery slipped 0.47% to USD96.73 per barrel in Asian trading Wednesday after settling down 0.21% at USD96.87 a barrel on Tuesday in the U.S.
On Tuesday, official data showed the euro zone’s unemployment rate was 12% in February, meaning 19 million people are out of work. The Markit Eurozone Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index dropped to 46.8 last month, well below the 47.9 posted in February. Readings below 50 indicate contraction.
Later today, the U.S. Energy Information Administration will release weekly data on crude inventories and chatter among traders indicates they expect an increase. That would not be surprising as U.S. oil output is soaring, but demand remains sluggish.
In U.S. economic news, the Commerce Department said orders for manufactured goods increased 3% in February. Economists expected a 2.9% increase. Orders from the civilian aircraft business helped drive the February number higher.
Elsewhere, Brazil’s National Petroleum Agency said output there fell 1.8% to an average of 2.017 million barrels per day in February from January’s figure. The February reading is also 8.5% below the number posted in February 2012.
Production declines at old fields and rising costs have hampered Brazil’s output in recent months. The country vies with OPEC member Venezuela for the title of largest oil producer in Latin America.
Meanwhile, Brent crude for May delivery fell 0.07% to USD110.28 per barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange.