By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark crude for May delivery was down 24 cents to $103.36 US in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Yesterday, the Nymex contract gained $1.04 to settle at $103.60 amid unrest in eastern Ukraine after adding more than $2 the day before. The last time it closed above $103 was on March 4.
Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil prices, was down 60 cents to $107.38 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
Oil prices fell as Chinese trade numbers showed that exports contracted unexpectedly in March, shrinking by 6.6 percent from a year earlier while imports contracted 11.3 percent. Chinese imports of crude oil were also the lowest in five months, totaling 5.54 million barrels in March.
Crude prices also slipped following the report by the U.S. Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration that showed 4 million barrels were added to supplies last week. That compares to a rise of 2.5 million barrels predicted by analysts.
In other energy futures trading in New York:
— Wholesale gasoline lost 1.84 cents to $2.99 a gallon.
— Natural gas fell 2.9 cents to $4.557 per 1,000 cubic feet.
— Heating oil was down 0.89 cent at $2.9451 a gallon.