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Oil drops on weaker US, China manufacturing data

February 3, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil dropped Monday after reports of weaker manufacturing activity in the U.S. and China.

Benchmark oil for March delivery dropped $1.06 to close at $96.43 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, fell 36 cents to $106.04 on the ICE exchange in London.

A Chinese index reported Saturday by a government-affiliated agency fell from 51 points in December to 50.5 in January, just above the 50 level that signifies expansion. Meanwhile, U.S. manufacturing barely expanded last month as cold weather delayed shipments of raw materials and caused some factories to shut down, a trade group of purchasing managers said Monday. The group said its index of manufacturing activity fell to 51.3 in January from 56.5 in December.

Weaker manufacturing in the world’s two biggest economies could reduce global demand for energy.

U.S. drivers are paying an average of $3.28 per gallon of gasoline, AAA said Monday. That’s down 4 cents that a month ago and 23 cents below where the average price was at this time last year.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

—Wholesale gasoline was down 2 cents at $2.61 a gallon

—Heating oil rose 1 cent to $3.01 a gallon.

—Natural gas fell 4 cents to $4.91 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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