Crude oil futures slipped lower during early European trading hours on Friday, but remained within close range of a two-month high as markets eyed the release of U.S. economic growth data later in the day.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light sweet crude futures for delivery in February traded at USD98.79 a barrel during European morning trade, down 0.26%.
The February contract settled up 1% on Thursday to end at USD99.04 a barrel.
Oil futures were likely to find support at USD97.31 a barrel, the low from December 18 and resistance at USD100.29 a barrel, the high from October 22.
Traders were eyeing the release of U.S. gross domestic product data later in the day, after a batch of mixed economic reports on Thursday fuelled fresh uncertainty over the strength of the U.S. economic recovery.
The National Association of Realtors said on Thursday that existing home sales declined 4.3% to a seasonally adjusted 4.90 million units last month from 5.12 million in October. Analysts had expected U.S. existing home sales to fall 1.5% to 5.03 million units in November.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said that its manufacturing index improved to 7.0 this month from November’s reading of 6.5. Analysts had expected the index to rise to a reading of 10.0 in December.
A separate report showed that the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits increased by 10,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 379,000, the highest since late March.
The reports came after the Fed announced Wednesday that it would reduce its USD85 billion-a-month bond buying program by USD10 billion in January amid indications the U.S. economic recovery is deepening.
The U.S. central bank reiterated that interest rates are likely to remain low even after the unemployment rate drops below 6.5%, the threshold at which the Fed has previously said it would start to consider rate increases.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange, Brent oil futures for February delivery eased 0.07% to trade at USD110.03 a barrel, with the spread between the Brent and crude contracts standing at USD11.24 a barrel.
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