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Oil Market Update (April 16, 2013)

Brent futures fell on Monday, trading close to a nine-month low hit earlier in the day, after bleak Chinese and US data stoked concerns of an economic growth slowdown in the world's top oil consumers.

China's economic recovery unexpectedly stumbled in the first three months of 2013, with the annual rate of growth easing to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent in the final quarter of last year. Economists had forecast 8-percent growth.

Brent for May settlement, which expired on Monday, fell as much as $2.56, to $100.55 per barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, and traded at $100.60 per barrel on Monday afternoon.

West Texas Intermediate for May delivery decreased as much as $3.24, to $88.05, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest since December 21. It was at $88.93 a barrel on Monday afternoon. The volume of all futures traded was 233 percent above the 100-day average.

Concerns over the energy demand outlook in the US were underlined last week after a Department of Energy report showed that oil supplies have risen to the highest level since July 1990. US crude oil inventories increased by 300,000 barrels last week to hit 388.9 million, dampening hopes of a robust recovery in oil demand from the world's largest oil consumer.

The International Energy Agency cut its global oil demand forecast for 2013 for the third consecutive month. The agency reduced its estimate for global oil consumption by 45,000 barrels a day, to 795,000 barrels a day, citing weakening demand in Europe.

Political rumblings in Venezuela, Alaska

Nicolas Maduro's win in Venezuela's presidential election means state oil company PDVSA will continue funding the government's socialist policies, while increasingly relying on deals with China and Russia. The late Hugo Chavez picked Maduro to continue his self-declared revolution in the OPEC country, where he nationalized most of the oil industry during his 14-year rule.

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