Oil Sinks On Weak China Data and As Heating Season Ends


NEW YORK, March 10 (Reuters) - U.S. oil fell by more than $1 per barrel on Monday, pressured by an unexpected drop in China's exports that stoked fears of a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.

Moderating temperatures that will reduce the need for heating fuels also weighed on U.S. oil prices. U.S. ultra low-sulfur diesel futures, more commonly known as heating oil, were down more than 1.5 percent.

Oil on both sides of the Atlantic was pressured as traders unwound some of the risk premium associated with fears of an escalation in tensions in Crimea over the weekend.

The crisis in Ukraine had pushed money managers to collect a record number of bullish bets in U.S. oil futures and options last week, U.S. government data showed on Friday.

Data from the IntercontinentalExchange showed the same managers raised their bullish Brent positions to their highest since October.

"There was selling pressure early on from Chinese economic data," and the lingering tensions in Russia are not providing clear support, said Dwayne Pliska, senior trading consultant with HighGround trading group in Chicago. "We're still looking for (U.S. oil to) possibly drop to the key technical and psychological level of $100."

After two straight days of gains, Brent crude was trading 1.09 cents lower at $107.91 by 1:40 p.m EDT (1740 GMT), having fallen $1.25 earlier in the session. U.S. oil fell $1.61 to $100.97 a barrel after touching a high of $102.82.


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