Brent Slides Towards $108 On Chinese Exports
Brent crude oil fell below $109 to start the week on poor data from China, but supply worries helped underpin prices. The commodity traded at $108.01 at 6:00 GMT on Monday morning, as investors evaluated geopolitical tension in both Ukraine and Libya.
Bloomberg reported that China released data on Monday showing that the nation's exports unexpectedly fell 18.1 percent in February from a year earlier. The figure was far below economists' expectations of a 7.5 percent increase, though some are blaming the country's Lunar New Year holiday for the disparity. The data compounded the already growing worry that the Chinese economy is slowing down as it followed poor PMI data released last week.
However, the ongoing tension in Ukraine kept a floor under Brent prices as Russian forces tightened their grip on Ukraine's Crimean peninsula over the weekend. Russian forces seized another border post as well as a military airfield over the weekend as pro-Russian leaders moved forward with the country's planned referendum.
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Western leaders have said they will not recognize Crimea's independence from Ukraine if the vote does take place on March 16, as it is a direct violation of Ukraine's treaty and international law.
However, the Ukrainian government has more pressing problems as its unpaid bills could leave the country without gas. Gazprom has said it may stop sending gas to Ukraine unless the government is able to pay its debts.
Tension in Libya also supported Brent prices as armed protesters clashed with the nation's government on Sunday over the sale of oil from a rebel held port. Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan warned protesters that the military would bomb a North Korean tanker, which was loaded with $36 million of crude oil if it leaves the county's Es Sider port.
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