Oil prices were mixed in Asia on Wednesday after data showed Chinese economic growth slowed further in the first quarter of the year, while investors await the latest US supply report, analysts said.
New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for May delivery, rose four cents to $103.79, while Brent North Sea crude for June eased 16 cents to $109.20 on its first day of trading. Brent's May contract expired on Tuesday.
China's economy expanded 7.4 percent year-on-year in January-March, China's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Monday, weaker than the 7.7 percent expansion in October-December.
While the figure exceeded the median forecast of 7.3 percent in a survey of 13 economists by AFP, it is the latest in a string of figures showing the world's number two economy and key driver of global growth is slowing.
“The GDP data is better than expected but it's lower than the last quarter and I suspect investors will still have the 'China is slowing down' story on their minds,” David Lennox, resource analyst at Fat Prophets in Sydney, told AFP. “Oil prices will likely remain under pressure as a result,” he said.
Chinese economic data is closely watched by crude oil investors as the nation is the world's biggest energy consumer, and a slump in growth would hurt demand and global prices.
Dealers are also awaiting the latest US stockpiles report out later Wednesday for clues about demand in the world's biggest economy.
The US Energy Information Administration is expected to report that gasoline stocks fell 1.4 million barrels in the week to April 11, according to analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal.
Crude supplies are expected to rise 1.5 million barrels, as processing is curtailed by refinery maintenance. - Sapa-AFP