Brent above $104 on mixed economic data

Crude oil prices 110 May 2013, News Wires – Brent oil was above $104 a barrel, Friday, as stronger signs of a US recovery and persistent doubts over the Chinese economy gave mixed signals about demand from the world’s top two consumers.

The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless aid fell last week to its lowest in more than five years, underlining resilience flagged earlier by a strong April employment report.Crude oil prices 1

Brent was down 25 cents at $104.22 a barrel early on Friday. US crude eased 25 cents to $96.14 a barrel. Brent was mostly unchanged for the week, while the US benchmark was set to gain for a third week in a row.

A firmer dollar also weighed on oil prices, but the bigger concern among investors is the health of the world’s second largest economy, China. While consumer inflation rose in April, China’s factory prices fell for a fourteenth straight month.

In the first quarter, China’s gross domestic product grew by a less than forecast 7.7%, frustrating investors who had hoped for a strong rebound of at least 8%.

But oil prices may draw some support from heightened tension in the Middle East after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said Syria would respond to Israeli raids around Damascus by giving his group more sophisticated new weapons.

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