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Oil prices fell today as the US retail and automobile sales fell unexpectedly in January, which increased doubts among investors about growth in the world’s biggest economy and global oil demand in 2014.

According to Reuters, Brent crude dropped by $0.13 to $108.39 a barrel, while US crude fell $0.24 to $100.11 a barrel.

Crude prices dropped after the US Commerce Department data revealed that retail sales dropped by 0.4% in January, led by a drop in automobile sales which fell by 0.1% in December.

The country’s core sales, which are automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, fell by 0.3% after rising by a downwardly revised 0.3% in December 2013 weighed on oil prices.

The poor jobless data was compounded by weak US retail sales data suggesting that consumers ploughed their money on heating fuel amid a record cold winter.

Further drop in crude prices were however negated by Libya’s oil output drop to 460,000bpd after protesters shut down pipelines from the El Wafa and El Sharara oilfields.

This week, Libya’s oil production fell by more than 100,000bpd.

Crude prices got further support as BP declared force majeure at an Angolan oil field, which could jeopardise exports of up to 180,000bpd.

The US International Energy Agency (IEA) data showed that oil inventories fell by 1.5 million barrels per day in the last three months of 2013, the steepest quarterly decline since 1999.


Image: Cold weather across much of the nation contributed to a drop in retail sales in January. Photo: courtesy of Sura Nualpradid.

Energy