The price of oil was little changed Tuesday, with the outlook for energy demand kept in check by weak manufacturing in China and the U.S.
Benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery was up 19 cents to $96.62 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.06 to close at $96.43 on Monday.Oil prices took a hit this week after surveys of purchasing managers in the world's two biggest economies indicated weakness in manufacturing last month.
A trade group in the U.S. reported
that manufacturing barely expanded in January as cold weather cut shipments and
forced some factories to shut down. On the weekend, a Chinese manufacturing
index by a government-affiliated agency reported that activity declined to just
above the level that indicates contraction.
Feeble manufacturing could indicate
broader economic weakness that results in reduced demand for energy.
Brent crude, a benchmark for oil sold
internationally, was up 1 cent at $106.05 on the ICE exchange in London.
Investors are looking ahead to the end
of the week, when the U.S. releases payrolls figures that will shed further
light on the state of the U.S. economy.
In other energy futures trading on
- Wholesale gasoline was flat at
$2.609 a gallon.
- Heating oil was nearly unchanged at
$3.00 a gallon.
- Natural gas rose 15.4 cents to
$5.059 per 1,000 cubic feet.