According to CNBC, although Chinese oil imports fell last month, data showed that the oil consuming giant's exports increased by 20 percent in February, beating expectations and fueling speculation that the nation will keep oil demand high in 2013. The decrease in oil imports was attributed to lower demand during the Lunar New Year break.
However gains were capped when the Brent pipeline in the British North Sea reopened after being shut for almost a week due to a leak at the Cormorant Alpha platform. The restart flooded the market with supply and kept Brent prices from spiking following the Chinese data.
Trouble in the eurozone also weighed on Brent prices as the lack of government in Italy continued to be a source of worry for investors. Markets were calmed only slightly after the European Central Bank decided to keep interest rates fixed at their current record low rate of 0.75 percent.
At a press conference following the meeting bank President Mario Draghi was optimistic about the eurozone's recovery, expected to start slowly at the end of 2013. He admitted that a rate cut was considered after the bank forecast inflation to drop even further in the months to come, but reassured investors that no rate cut was planned for the future.
Later on Friday, investors will be watching for US non-farm payroll data for clues about the US economy's health. The data is going to be a key part of the Federal Reserve's decision about their quantitative easing policy.
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