- Oil prices fell on Friday on fears emerging-market economies may be cooling and demand less fuel and energy going forward.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in March traded at USD96.88 a barrel during U.S. trading, down 0.45%. New York-traded oil futures hit a session low of USD96.26 a barrel and a high of USD97.80 a barrel.

The March contract settled up 0.61% at USD97.32 a barrel on Thursday.

Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at USD93.66 a barrel, Monday''s low, and resistance at USD97.83 a barrel, Thursday''s high.

A preliminary Chinese HSBC Manufacturing PMI fell to 49.6 for January from 50.5 in December, missing market calls for an uptick to 50.6.

A reading under 50 signifies contraction, and the numbers spooked investors with concerns that emerging-market economies may grow less than expected and demand less crude.

Bullish U.S. supply data released Thursday cushioned losses.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that U.S. crude oil inventories rose by 990,000 barrels in the week ended Jan. 17, outpacing expectations for an increase of 588,000 barrels, while total motor gasoline inventories increased by 2.1 million barrels, broadly in line with market expectations.

Inventories of distillates, which include diesel fuel and heating oil, fell by 3.2 million barrels compared to market calls for a loss of 851,000, which supported crude prices on Friday.

Prices also enjoyed support on reports that the Keystone XL pipeline linking Cushing, Oklahoma, to the U.S. Gulf Coast began making deliveries this week, which should ease bottlenecks that have depressed prices at times.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for March delivery were up 0.27% and trading at USD107.88 a barrel, while the spread between the Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at USD11.00 a barrel.

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