Crude oil prices down on China’s PMI data

PTI Singapore | Updated on November 23, 2017 Published on February 20, 2014

Oil prices fell in Asian trade today after a closely-watched index showed that China’s key manufacturing sector contracted further in February to hit its lowest level in seven months.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for March delivery dropped 17 cents to $103.14 in late morning trade, while Brent North Sea crude eased 56 cents to $109.91 for its April delivery.

British banking giant HSBC’s preliminary reading for its purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for China, which tracks the manufacturing activity in factories and workshops, fell to 48.3 this month.

That marked a further tumble from the final reading of 49.5 in January, when the figure showed contraction for the first time in six months.

The index is a closely-watched gauge of the health of the world’s second biggest economy. A reading above 50 indicates growth, while anything below signals contraction.

“The below 50 readings of the past two months leave little doubt that conditions in the manufacturing sector are downbeat,” Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at research house Capital Economics, said in a market commentary.

Energy stockpiles data

Investors will now focus on the US energy stockpiles report to be released later today, delayed one day by Monday’s holiday in the United States.

Kenny Kan, market analyst at CMC markets in Singapore, said that there is “wide expectation” that stockpiles will fall due to the harsh winter weather, which has driven up the demand for heating fuels and is supportive of prices.

Published on February 20, 2014
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