Oil prices steady after US manufacturing data
World oil prices steadied Thursday, recouping some of their early losses after data showed the US manufacturing sector narrowly avoided contraction last month.
Brent North Sea crude for delivery in October fell 13 cents to $114.72 per barrel in late afternoon deals.
New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for October rose 21 cents to $89.02 a barrel.
The US manufacturing sector barely was flat for the second month running in August but the figures and other data suggested that the US economy was at least not getting any worse and on that basis, investors reacted positively.
The Institute of Supply Management's indexed survey of purchasing managers fell to 50.6 percent from 50.9 percent in July, with a reading above 50 indicating growth.
The ISM said overall sentiment in the manufacturing sector "is one of concern and caution over the domestic and international economic environment, which is affecting customers' confidence and willingness to place orders, at least in the short term."
It was the sixth straight decline from a post-recession high of 61.4 percent in February.
"We have seen a strong fall in the US ISM since March and today's reading provides some hope of stabilization," said SEB Commodity Research analyst Bjarne Schieldrop.
"All in all, a relief with new orders index in neutral providing confidence that we are not moving closer to the abyss (a new US recession). This could open for a further upward move in the oil price."
Prices fell earlier as dealers tracked the strengthening dollar and digested poor eurozone manufacturing figures which sparked renewed fears of a global economic slowdown.
The eurozone manufacturing purchasing managers' index compiled by London-based Markit fell to 49.0 points in August from 50.4 in July. Any score below 50 indicates contraction.
The European single currency sank to a two-week low of $1.4263 following the news. A stronger US currency makes dollar-priced oil more expensive for buyers using weaker currencies and tends to hit demand.
Prices rose in Asian trade Thursday on the back of positive Chinese and Australian data, analysts said.
China's Purchasing Managers' Index edged up to 50.9 in August from 50.7 in July, when it posted the lowest reading in more than two years.
The markets were meanwhile on tenterhooks before publication of Friday's crucial US non-farm payrolls report after an inconclusive private sector reading on Wednesday .
© 2011 AFP