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Oil declines after Chinese monthly trade data showed subdued imports

The price of oil declined Thursday after China's monthly trade data showed subdued imports by the world's largest crude consumer.

Benchmark U.S. crude for June delivery was down 39 cents at US$100.38 a barrel at 0920 GMT in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose US$1.27 to close at US$100.77 on Wednesday.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international varieties of oil, was down 48 cents to US$107.65 on the ICE exchange in London.

China's customs data showed that imports rose 0.8 percent in April, improving from the previous month's 11.3 percent decline but still subdued. Exports rose 0.9 percent, a recovery from March's 6.6 percent fall. Weak imports reflect slowing Chinese economic growth, which declined to 7.4 percent in the first quarter of year.

The decline in the oil price comes after a big jump Wednesday, which stemmed from a surprise decline in U.S. crude stockpiles.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline added 0.1 cent to US$2.92 a gallon.

— Heating oil was down 1.4 cents to US$2.914 a gallon

— Natural gas slipped 0.1 cent to US$4.734 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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