Investing.com - Crude oil futures fell from the previous session’s four-month high on Thursday, after data showed that manufacturing activity in China fell to a seven-month low in February, further suggesting that the world''s second-largest economy may be facing a slowdown.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in April traded in a range between $102.46 a barrel and $103.00 a barrel.
Nymex oil prices last traded at $102.62 a barrel during European morning hours, down 0.2%.
The April contract rallied to $103.29 a barrel on Wednesday, the most since October 10, before trimming gains to settle at $102.84 a barrel, up 0.72%.
Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at $100.05 a barrel, the low from February 18 and resistance at $103.29 a barrel, the high from February 19.
Data released earlier showed that China’s HSBC Flash Purchasing Managers Index fell to 48.3 in February from a final reading of 49.5 in January, remaining below the 50.0 level that separates expansion from contraction for a second month.
The Asian nation is the world''s second largest oil consumer after the U.S. and has been the engine of strengthening demand.
Meanwhile, investors looked ahead to key U.S. weekly supply data due later in the day to gauge the strength of oil demand from the world’s largest consumer.
Thursday’s government report was expected to show that crude oil stockpiles rose by 2 million barrels last week. The data was also expected to show that distillate stockpiles, including heating oil and diesel, decreased by 1.9 million barrels.
The report comes out one day later than usual due to the President’s Day holiday in the U.S. on Monday.
After markets closed Wednesday, the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, said that U.S. crude inventories fell by 0.5 million barrels in the week ended February 14, compared to expectations for an increase of 1.9 million barrels.
The report also showed that distillate stocks fell 0.7 million barrels, while gasoline stockpiles rose by 1.4 million barrels.
Market players also awaited the release of key U.S. data later in the day to further gauge the strength of the economy.
The U.S. is to release the weekly report on initial jobless claims and data on consumer price inflation. The nation is also to release data on manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region.
Minutes of the Federal Reserve’s January meeting published Wednesday indicated that the central bank will maintain the current pace of reductions to its stimulus program, as long as the economy continues to improve as expected.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for April delivery declined 0.45% to trade at $109.97 a barrel, while the spread between the Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at $7.35 a barrel.
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