LONDON :  Oil prices fell Friday on profit-taking, after hitting the highest levels of the year on data showing the US economy grew more than expected in the fourth quarter. New York’s main contract West Texas Intermediate for delivery in March fell 35 cents to $97.88 a barrel. Brent North Sea crude for March stood at $107.22 a barrel in London morning trade, down 73 cents from Thursday’s closing level. Trade was light with most Asian markets closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.
Prices had jumped on Thursday after the US Commerce Department said the world’s number one economy — and biggest crude consumer — expanded 3.2 percent in October-December.
That was much better than the 3.0 percent predicted by analysts.
Adding to the upbeat data was a 3.3-percent rise in consumer spending, which is a crucial driver of growth in the United States, suggesting demand for crude could pick up.
Akio Shibata, president of Japan’s National Resource Research Institute, said oil prices “will likely remain at relatively high levels for some time to come as demand will grow on the backdrop of a strong US economy”.