Commodities: Crude oil tumbles ahead of holiday weekend

LONDON (ShareCast) - The stronger dollar and uncertainty about the outlook for future oil demand sent crude oil futures tumbling on Friday.

Crude oil for March delivery dropped $1.45 to settle at $95.86 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Over the week oil prices were down 0.2%.

The 1.5% decline was also driven by profit taking ahead of Monday's Presidents' Day holiday in the US.

Disappointing economic data from Europe and Japan overshadowed other encouraging data from the US.

The latest data showed Japan's economy contracted during the third quarter, as gross domestic product shrank 0.1% and declined 0.4% on an annualised basis.

UK retail sales declined 0.6% in January, confounding expectations of a 0.6% increase. Meanwhile Eurozone trade data also came in weaker than expected for December. Eurozone GDP shrank 0.6% in the final three months of 2012.

In the US, the University of Michigan's preliminary consumer sentiment gauge for the month of February came in at 88, above forecasts of 85.5.

US industrial production contracted 0.1% month-on-month in January, but still came in better than the previous reading.

Among precious metals gold nursed heavy losses on Friday, skidding to a low of $1,596.70 ahead of the G20 meeting and as encouraging US data eroded the yellow metal's appeal.

Gold futures for delivery in April lost $26 to settle at $1,609.50 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.