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Oil prices nearly flat after weak China, Europe data
by Staff Writers
New York (AFP) April 23, 2013


Oil prices rebounded from an early fall to finish almost flat Tuesday after weak economic news in China and Europe.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for June delivery gave up 1 cent to close at $89.18 per barrel.

European oil benchmark Brent futures dipped 8 cents to $100.31 per barrel.

The decline in oil came after preliminary data showed manufacturing activity in China slowed in April due to sluggish foreign demand.

The HSBC purchasing managers' index (PMI) for the month came in at 50.5, from 51.6 in March. A reading above 50 indicates growth and anything below points to contraction.

In another piece of gloomy news, a key survey showed that private sector business activity remained weak across the Eurozone in April, underscoring a gloomy medium-term outlook for the 17-state economy.

The Markit Eurozone Composite Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) registered 46.5 points, the same reading as March.

The weak figures go "right into the heart of the demand question for oil as we move forward," said John Kilduff, a trader at Again Capital. "If you have China barely expanding, and the Eurozone showing no progress whatsoever, it makes for the bearish case on the market for crude oil."

Tuesday's strong equity market was one factor behind the relatively subdued drop in oil prices, said Bart Melek, head of commodity strategy at TD Securities. The main indices were all up one percent or more at the close.

"All in all, the energy market was kind of helped along by fairly decent equity numbers," Melek said.

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