Investing.com - Brent oil futures slumped to a five-week low on Thursday, as worries over potential supply disruptions in the Middle East continued to subside.
On the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil for August delivery fell to a session low of $107.77 a barrel, the weakest level since June 6, before trimming losses to last trade at $107.95 during European morning hours, down 0.3%, or 33 cents.
London-traded Brent futures extended losses amid indications Libya''s largest oil field Sharara was ramping up production much faster than expected and is almost at two-thirds of its output capacity.
Ongoing signals that Iraqi oil exports from the southern part of the country remained insulated from the sectarian violence that has swept the north in recent weeks also weighed.
Elsewhere, on the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil for delivery in August hit a daily low of $101.61 a barrel, the cheapest since June 5, before coming off the lows to trade at $101.80, down 0.47%, or 48 cent.
Weekly supply data released Wednesday showed that total motor gasoline inventories in the U.S. increased by 0.6 million barrels last week, disappointing forecasts for a drop of 0.3 million barrels.
The unexpected increase in gasoline stocks during the summer driving season in the U.S. was bearish for oil prices.
Meanwhile, data released earlier showed that Chinese exports in June climbed 7.2% from a year earlier, missing expectations for a gain of 10.6%, while imports rose 5.5%, below forecasts for a 5.8% increase.
China’s trade surplus narrowed to $31.6 billion last month from a surplus of $35.92 billion in May, compared to estimates for a surplus of $35.0 billion.
In the U.S., minutes of the Federal Reserve’s June policy meeting released Wednesday showed that officials agreed to end the central bank’s asset purchase program in October.
However, the minutes revealed little new information on when the bank could start to hike rates. The central bank acknowledged that the economy is continuing to improve but officials remain divided over the outlook for inflation.
The U.S. and China are the world’s two largest oil consuming nations.
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