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Crude oil continues steady decline

Federal Reserve's Beige Book shows energy slump taking a broad toll.

By
Daniel J. Graeber
Crude oil prices drift lower after U.S. data show wages are lower and inflation is slowing. File photo by Alexis C. Glenn/UPI
Crude oil prices drift lower after U.S. data show wages are lower and inflation is slowing. File photo by Alexis C. Glenn/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Affirmations that markets still favored the supply side amid sluggish economic growth pushed crude oil prices lower in early Thursday trading.

The U.S. Labor Department said the Consumer Price Index, which measures how much U.S. consumers pay for goods, dropped 0.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis. In a sign of slow inflation, data show CPI was relatively unchanged over the last 12 months.

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Slow economic growth on the global stage suggests momentum is not enough to draw on the excess supply of crude oil on the market. The American Petroleum Institute published data late Wednesday that show U.S. crude oil inventories increased last week by 9.3 million barrels.

West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for the price of crude oil, lost 1.2 percent from the previous session to trade at $46.05 per barrel early Thursday. Brent crude oil sold for $48.92 per barrel, down about a half percent from Wednesday's close.

The Labor Department reported weekly applications for unemployment fell 7,000 for the week ending Oct. 10. The four-week average is at its lowest level since December 1973. Hourly earnings increased 0.1 percent from August to September, but real average weekly earnings declined 0.2 percent, suggesting that while consumer energy prices are lower, people have less money in general to spend.

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A so-called Beige Book published by the U.S. Federal Reserve said general economic momentum was mixed, though modest expansion was the prevailing trend.

"Manufacturing turned in a mixed but generally weaker performance during the latest reporting period, with a number of districts noting adverse effects from the energy sector," it said. "Some strength was reported in the motor vehicles, aerospace, and transportation equipment industries, while metals industries were generally weaker--in part, due to the strong dollar."

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