Crude Falls Below $73 In Widespread Commodity Sell-Off

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Crude prices crumbled on Thursday, leading a broad sell-off of commodities amid a bevy of troubling data from the US and China.

The price of crude dropped $2.68 to $72.95 a barrel, marking a fourth consecutive daily loss.

With tomorrow's key employment report expected to paint a grim portrait of the US jobs situation, traders will be looking to the next supportive level around $71 a barrel for oil.

While metals and crude prices fell sharply, natural gas prices were supported by a government report showing a smaller-than-expected increase in natural gas in storage on the week ended June 25.

In economic news from the US, the number of buyers who signed contracts to purchase homes dropped a record 30 percent in May.

In another troubling sign for the labor market, the Labor Department released a report on Thursday showing a much bigger than expected increase in first-time claims for unemployment benefits in the week ended June 26th.

The data has added to recent concerns about Friday's monthly employment report. The report showed that initial jobless claims rose to 472,000 from the previous week's revised upwardly figure of 459,000.

Elsewhere, China's manufacturing expanded at a slower pace for a second month in June, generating concerns the nation's red-hot economy is cooling off. (Provided by RTTNews)