Oil market mixed amid cold US weather, weak data

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The price of Brent North Sea crude for February delivery, fell 42 cents to $105.62 a barrel (AFP/File, Ki Price)
The price of Brent North Sea crude for February delivery, fell 42 cents to $105.62 a barrel (AFP/File, Ki Price)

London — Global oil prices diverged on Tuesday as traders took their leads from cold weather forecasts in the United States and weak manufacturing data in both the US and China.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in March jumped 92 cents to $97.35 a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in March dipped eight cents to stand at $105.96 a barrel in late London deals.

“Brent prices have continued their recent softness but thus far have been unable to push much below their recent two month lows,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at traders CMC Markets UK.

“US prices on the other hand are continuing to find support on reports that yet another snow storm is heading towards the Eastern seaboard of the US.”

Weighing on prices was poorly-received manufacturing data from the US and China.

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.

In China at the weekend, the government said the country’s manufacturing activity slipped to a five-month low point in January, confirming a slowdown in the factory sector in the world’s top energy consumer.

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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