Oil prices steady on Chinese data

2nd December 2013, Comments 0 comments

Global oil prices held steady on Monday as dealers digested upbeat manufacturing data in China, and eyed this week's key OPEC meeting, analysts said.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in January added four cents to $92.76 a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for January slid 14 cents to stand at $109.55 a barrel in London midday deals.

"Prices have been supported by better than expected Chinese manufacturing PMI figures," said Kash Kamal, research analyst at London-based brokerage Sucden Financial.

Official data Sunday showed China's manufacturing growth in November maintained its strong pace from the previous month to stay at a 19-month high. China is the world's top energy consumer.

The purchasing managers' index (PMI) was at 51.4, unchanged from October, and at the highest level since April 2012.

Global banking giant HSBC's own index of the country's manufacturing activity came in at 50.8 on Monday, better than the 50.4 initially estimated.

A reading above 50 signals expansion while a figure below indicates contraction.

Later this week, on Wednesday, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meet in Vienna to decide on the cartel's oil output against a backdrop of slowing crude demand and unrest in member Libya.

Supplying about one third of the world's oil, the cartel is expected to maintain its output ceiling of 30 million barrels per day, even though it is currently producing under the limit.

OPEC is seen sitting tight, with its dozen members largely appearing satisfied by current market prices for crude, as Brent wins strong support from rising unrest in Libya that has slashed the country's output.

Weighing on prices is a reduction in tensions over Iran following the OPEC member's recent deal with world powers to allow tighter oversight of its nuclear programme in exchange for modest sanctions relief.

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© 2013 AFP

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