Oil prices were mixed in Asia today as upbeat US manufacturing data boosted hopes for stronger demand in the world’s top crude consumer, analysts said, while fears are growing over political unrest in Egypt.
New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate light sweet crude for delivery in August, was down 10 cents at $97.89 a barrel, while Brent North Sea crude for August gained one cent to $103.01.
“Oil will continue to have support from the rosy sentiment about demand created after the largely positive US manufacturing data,” Desmond Chua, market strategist at CMC Markets in Singapore, said.
The Institute for Supply Management had yesterday said that its purchasing managers’ index of US manufacturing activity rose to 50.9 in June, up from May’s 49. Of the 18 manufacturing industries surveyed, 12 reported growth.
A PMI reading above 50 indicates expansion, while anything below points to contraction.
The worsening political crisis in Egypt is also supporting prices, analysts said.
The country’s armed forces on Monday gave the Islamist Government 48 hours to meet the demands of the people, after millions took to the streets to demand the resignation of President Mohamed Morsi.
“The Egypt situation is raising concerns about Middle East crude supply,” Chua said.
Conflicts in Egypt could hit crude shipments through the Suez Canal, which provides a link between Europe and Asia and allows ships safer and faster travel between the regions without having to sail around Africa.
While Egypt is not a major oil producer, the canal carries about four million barrels daily, roughly equal to 13 percent of the output of cartel OPEC.
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