* Oil inventories seen rising past previous record
* U.S. retail sales edge up, but gasoline sales weak
* China oil demand in April at eight-month low
* Dollar's recent strengthening weighs on commodities
* Coming up: API oil data on Tuesday, EIA data on Wednesday
(Adds settlement prices, some details.)
By Jeanine Prezioso
NEW YORK, May 13 Crude oil prices settled lower
on Monday after a choppy day of trading, hit by slowing oil
demand in China and data showing the biggest drop for U.S.
retail gasoline sales in more than four years.
Positive U.S. retail sales data supported the idea that the
U.S. economy was continuing to recover but it did not apply to
gasoline sales, underscoring ailing demand for the fuel. The
retail data also strengthened the U.S. dollar, which had a
negative impact on the price of crude oil.
Refinery crude throughput in China, the world's
second-largest consumer, fell 3 percent in April from March, its
lowest daily rate since last September, as refineries entered
maintenance season. Implied oil demand was up 3.2 percent in
April from a year earlier to about 9.6 million barrels per day,
the lowest in eight months.
Brent crude settled down $1.09 per barrel at
$102.82, after trading as low as $102.25. U.S. oil ended
the day 87 cents lower at $95.17 a barrel, after trading as low
"The economic data in China is not yet providing upward
support. It is not that it is weak, it is simply not sufficient
to support a bullish trend," Harry Tchilingurian, head of
commodity market strategy at BNP Paribas, said.
U.S. retail sales edged up 0.1 percent, after a revised 0.5
percent decline in March, data from the Commerce Department
showed. Economists polled by Reuters had expected retail sales
to drop 0.3 percent last month.
But U.S. April gasoline sales fell 4.7 percent, the largest
decline since December 2008, following March's drop of 3.2
percent, the data showed.
U.S. gasoline futures settled 1.37 percent lower at
$2.821 a gallon.
The U.S. currency got a boost from the retail data.
A stronger dollar weighed on crude oil prices as
dollar-denominated oil becomes more expensive for holders of
Moreover, the oil market is amply supplied as demand remains
weak or uncertain.
"The strength in the dollar has taken the wind out of the
market's rally," said Gene McGillian, an analyst with Tradition
Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.
"We still don't see signs of any pick-up in demand. The
market doesn't have the fundamental strength to move higher, it
fails because we have ample supply. Demand for motor fuels is
The U.S. Energy Information Administration last week said it
expects world oil production to exceed consumption in the second
quarter of 2013, resulting in an average build of 0.5 million
barrels per day in global oil stocks.
U.S. crude oil inventories were seen rising last week beyond
record inventories hit in the previous two weeks, according to a
The International Energy Agency (IEA) will release its
monthly and medium-term supply and demand outlook on Tuesday,
after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries
last week increased its outlook for 2013 demand.
The IEA "is likely to revise its forecast for non-OPEC oil
supply significantly upwards to take account of the rapid growth
of shale oil production in the U.S. Positive news about demand
is therefore needed if oil prices are to climb," analysts at
The closely watched spread, or price differential, between
global benchmark Brent crude and U.S. benchmark West Texas
Intermediate CL-LCO1=R narrowed to a fresh 2-1/2 year low,
intraday at $7.32, settling at $7.65.
The spread has narrowed in recent weeks as crude makes its
way out of the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery point for the U.S.
oil futures contract.
"However, a growing glut of crude in Houston suggests
WTI-Brent is near a trough and should widen again (at least
marginally) later this year," Morgan Stanley analysts said in a
report on Monday.
(Additional reporting by Ron Buosso in London and Robert
Gibbons in New York; Editing by William Hardy, Keiron Henderson
and Dale Hudson)