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Oil prices slow down in Asian trade

The price of oil fell below US$94 a barrel Monday after a report showed China's economic growth declined in the last quarter of 2013.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. crude for February delivery was down 67 cents at US$93.70 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday, it rose 41 cents. The more heavily traded March contract was at US$93.94 a barrel, down 65 cents.

Floor trading was closed and trading volumes below the norm because of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.

The Nymex oil contract began the year near US$98 a barrel but retreated swiftly on indications of ample global supplies.

The dollar's strengthening over the past week makes crude a less attractive investment for traders using other currencies.

Reports that Libyan officials intend to regain from rebels the control over oil export facilities in the country's east again raised the prospect of more crude feeding already brimming global stockpiles. However, similar pledges in past months have gone unfulfilled.

Brent crude for March delivery, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, was down 20 cents to US$106.28 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline rose 2.62 cents at US$2.6371 a gallon.

— Natural gas fell 11 cents to US$4.272 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil added 1.3 cents to US$2.9475 a gallon.

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