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Economy returns to haunt oil prices

Rally loses steam as geopolitical tensions remain relatively stable.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Economy returns to haunt oil prices
Economy returns as a factor on crude oil prices, down more than 1 percent in Wednesday trading. British Chancellor George Osborne says nation's economy outperforming peers, but trajectory is slow. Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Macroeconomic concerns emerged as factors weighing on crude oil prices after tensions surrounding Middle East violence eased in Wednesday trading.

Belgian security concerns following terror attacks in Lebanon, France, Mali and elsewhere were punctuated by a U.S. State Department decision to issue a warning to Americans planning overseas travel. The situation was compounded by the downing of a Russian military jet by Turkey near its border with Syria.

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Crude oil prices soared after tensions mounted. The Kremlin said Wednesday, however, that while it was angered by the incident, there would be no escalation of conflict.

With geopolitical factors ebbing, macroeconomic concerns put downward pressure on crude oil prices in early Wednesday trading. Brent crude oil was down 1.2 percent to $45.57 per barrel in early trading. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price for crude oil, entered Wednesday's session down 1.3 percent.

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On the economic front, the U.S. Commerce Department said earlier this week real gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 2.1 percent for third quarter 2015, stronger than a previous estimate of 1.5 percent, but below the 3.9 percent growth rate recorded during the second quarter.

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For workers, data released Wednesday show personal and disposable income has been relatively unchanged since June.

Overseas, British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne struck a bullish tone about the health of the nation's economy, saying it was outperforming most European rivals.

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"We've grown almost three times faster than Japan, twice as fast as France, faster than Germany and at the same rate as the United States," he said.

Growth in gross domestic product is healthy at a 2.4 percent rate. Osborne said the rate will remain static throughout 2016 and increase only by 0.1 percent in 2017. Inflation, meanwhile, remains below the 2 percent target for 2015 and only returns gradually to the favored rate by 2019.

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