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Oil prices mixed in Asian trade

AFP_SINGAPORE: Oil prices were mixed in Asian trade Friday as dealers weighed concerns that the Chinese economy may be losing strength against upbeat US stockpiles figures, analysts said. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for April eased one cent to $102.74 in mid-morning trade, while Brent North Sea crude rose four cents to $110.34 for its April delivery.

Weak Chinese manufacturing data released Thursday has heightened concerns about waning demand from the Asian economic powerhouse, the world´s top energy consumer. HSBC´s preliminary reading for its purchasing managers´ index (PMI), which tracks manufacturing activity in China´s factories and workshops, contracted in February to its lowest level in seven months.

The index also tumbled in January, losing ground for the first time in six months.

Singapore´s United Overseas Bank said oil prices receded “as traders put more weight on the weak China PMI data against the strong US demand” reflected in latest US stockpiles data. Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney, said investors were still mulling the implications of the Chinese manufacturing figures.

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