Oil prices slide as traders eye US inventory data
World oil prices slid Wednesday on profit-taking as traders awaited the weekly snapshot of energy inventories in the United States, the world's biggest consumer of crude.
Brent North Sea crude for delivery in June fell 67 cents to $116.96 a barrel in afternoon trade in London.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for June, shed $1.20 to $102.68 per barrel.
Crude oil prices dropped "ahead of the release (later Wednesday) of the weekly oil inventories report for a confirmation of the levels of crude oil stocks and US refinery utilisation," said Myrto Sokou, an analyst at Sucden brokers.
"It seems that investors remain fairly cautious regarding the eurozone's sovereign debt issues as the situation about Greece's debt problems is still pending, causing further volatility and uncertainty to the markets."
Crude futures had leapt higher on Tuesday after trading lower for most of the day, encouraged by strong trade numbers from China that showed its economy still growing strongly.
Concerns about the impact on Mississippi corridor refineries of the river's worst flooding since 1925 also helped move prices up.
Elsewhere on Wednesday, the OPEC cartel held its forecast for world oil demand growth this year, saying rising consumption in China would make up for the uncertain outlook in the United States and in quake-hit Japan.
"World oil demand is forecast to grow by 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2011, broadly unchanged from the previous report," the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said in its monthly market report.
© 2011 AFP