SINGAPORE: Oil prices edged lower in Asia today, with investors fretting over stuttering growth in the US as political and economic uncertainty in the euro zone weighed, analysts said.
New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in June was down 21 cents to $104.72 per barrel while Brent North Sea crude for June shed 25 cents to $119.58 in morning trade.
Economic growth in the US slowed sharply to 2.2% in the first quarter of 2012, official data showed Friday, rekindling concerns that the nascent recovery in the world’s top oil consumer was losing steam.
The dip in growth from January to March was largely attributed to a slump in government spending.
“For all intents and purposes, consumption (in the US) remains in the doghouse. For the record, headline GDP growth of 2.2% drops to 1.5% if you take autos out of the equation,” DBS Group Research said in a note.
Meanwhile, investors continue to fret over the possibility of a full-blown debt crisis in the euro zone, with the European Central Bank set to huddle this Thursday in a crucial month policy meeting.
Since the last meeting in April, worries over the euro zone sovereign debt crisis have gained steam as everything seems to suggest that the 17-nation bloc has fallen into recession.
On the political front, Socialist challenger Francois Hollande looks likely to edge out French president Nicolas Sarkozy in a May 6 election run-off, while polls are also looming in crisis-hit Greece, which crucially needs to reboot its economy with tax cuts and amend an EU-IMF recovery plan.
“This weekend’s Greek elections will be a reminder of the challenges faced by politicians against voters who want to relax austerity measures tied to the bail-out programmes,” said DBS Group Research.