Brent Below $108 Heading Into The Weekend
Brent crude oil retreated below $108 on Thursday as investors turned their attention from Ukraine to China, where poor data confirmed the nation's economic slowdown.
The commodity traded at $107.48 at 7:00 GMT on Friday morning as investors waited for new developments in the icy relationship between the US and Russia over Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.
China released data on Thursday showing that several of the nation's economic indicators had fallen to multi-year lows. Bloomberg reported that Chinese factory production increased 8.6 percent in January and February from a year earlier, marking the nation's slowest start to the year since 2009.
Retail sales and fixed asset investment also suffered, both coming in at more than 10 year lows. The data confirmed what many investors had worried; that China's economy was seemingly stuck in a rut.
However, the crisis in Ukraine kept a floor under prices as the situation looked poised to escalate after German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Russia that it would face political and economic consequences if it carried on with the annexing of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.
Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to the Western threats by sending troops to perform military exercises in western Russia near the border of Ukraine. This weekend, Crimea is set to hold a referendum vote which could end with the region joining Russia. The vote has been criticized by Western leaders as a violation of both Ukraine's treaty as well as international regulations. If Putin goes ahead with the vote this weekend, the US and Europe are preparing to isolate the nation using economic sanctions.
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