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Oil prices mixed in Asian trade

04 February 2014, 07:06AFP

Singapore - Oil prices were mixed in Asian trade on Tuesday weighed down by concerns over weak manufacturing data from the United States and China, the world's top two economies.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in March gained 21 cents in mid-morning trade to $96.64 after falling more than one dollar in US closing deals Monday.

Brent North Sea crude eased six cents to $105.98.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) on Monday reported a sharp slowdown in US manufacturing activity in January.

The ISM's purchasing managers index (PMI) sank to 51.3 from 56.5 in December, with the new orders component almost stalling.

Any figure above the 50 mark indicates expansion of manufacturing activity while anything below that signals contraction.

China said Saturday that manufacturing activity slipped to a five-month low in January, confirming a slowdown in the factory sector in the world's top energy consumer.

Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC markets in Sydney, said WTI prices are now "fairly steady" after the initial reaction to the ISM reading.

Investors will also be keeping an eye on upcoming US jobs data for January, which is due out on Friday.

The US Labor Department last month said the economy added just 74,000 jobs in December, well below the 197,000 expected by analysts.




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