Oil prices were mixed in Asia today, with traders treading carefully ahead of Chinese trade and industrial production data as the regional powerhouse shows signs of slowing down, analysts said.

New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) light sweet crude for delivery in July, added two cents to $93.76 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for July delivery dropped 18 cents to $102.86 in mid-morning trade.

“Dealers are cautious ahead of the numbers due later in the week,” Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, said.

China’s trade data

He said “oil futures will be weighed if there is a slowing trend” in China’s trade data for May, which will be released on Friday.

The National Bureau of Statistics in Beijing will unveil the figures for industrial production, retail sales and inflation on Saturday.

Developments in China are closely watched as it is the world’s second biggest economy and largest energy consumer.

The International Monetary Fund has recently cut its 2013 growth forecast for the country to 7.75 per cent from an earlier projection of 8.0 per cent.

US crude stockpiles

WTI prices had risen yesterday thanks to a sharp decline in US oil inventories, indicating stronger demand in the world’s biggest economy.

The US Department of Energy said that stockpiles in the United States plunged 6.3 million barrels in the week ended May 31, much more than analysts expected, with the average estimate pegged at a 400,000 drop.