Investing.com - Crude oil futures edged lower during early European trading hours on Friday, as investors awaited the release of U.S. data later in the trading session, after disappointing economic reports on Thursday disappointed.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light sweet crude futures for delivery in March traded at USD100.17 a barrel during European morning trade, down 0.18%.
The March contract settled down 0.02% on Thursday to end at USD100.35 a barrel.
Oil futures were likely to find support at USD99.11 a barrel, the low from February 10 and resistance at USD101.38 a barrel, the high from February 12.
Oil prices remained under pressure after the U.S. Commerce Department on Thursday said that retail sales fell by a seasonally adjusted 0.4% last month, disappointing expectations for a 0.3% increase. Retail sales for December were revised down to a 0.1% decline from a previously reported increase of 0.2%.
Rising retail sales over time correlate with stronger economic growth, while weaker sales signal a declining economy.
Core retail sales, which exclude automobile sales, were unchanged last month, compared to forecasts for a 0.1% increase. Core sales in December were revised down to a gain of 0.3% from a previously reported increase of 0.7%.
Core sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of the government''s gross domestic product report. Consumer spending accounts for as much as 70% of U.S. economic growth.
A separate report showed that the number of people who filed for unemployment assistance in the U.S. last week rose unexpectedly, underlining concerns over the strength of the labor market.
The disappointing data stirred speculation the Federal Reserve will take a gradual approach to tapering its bond-buying stimulus this year. The Fed tapered its monthly asset purchase program by another USD10 billion to USD65 billion a month at its last policy meeting.
Oil prices remained mildly supported following reports Libya''s oil production fell by more than 100,000 barrels per day this week, after protesters shut two key pipelines, the country''s state oil company said.
In addition, BP declared force majeure at an Angolan oil field, which could jeopardize exports of up to 180,000 barrels per day.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange, Brent oil futures for April delivery edged down 0.16% to trade at USD108.35 a barrel, with the spread between the Brent and crude contracts standing at USD8.18 a barrel.
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