Oil mixed in Asian trade

Oil prices were mixed in Asian trade Thursday after a drawback in US crude inventories and strong data from the Chinese manufacturing sector.

New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for November delivery, slipped 10 cents to 77.76 dollars a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in November, gained four cents to 80.81 dollars.

Crude prices were taking a breather as markets digested gains made late Wednesday, said Ben Westmore, a minerals and energy economist of the National Australia Bank in Melbourne.

“There’s not a lot of movement after we had quite a large gain overnight,” he said.

Crude prices jumped late Wednesday following data released by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) showing a sharper-than-expected decline in oil inventories last week.

The EIA reported crude inventories in the world’s biggest energy consumer declined by 475,000 barrels for the week ending September 24, more than forecast by most analysts,

Gasoline stocks fell by 3.47 million barrels where experts widely expected a rise by 500,000 barrels. Distillate stocks also fell 1.27 million barrels.

Westmore said crude prices were “well-supported” by the stockpile drawdown as well as strong growth in Chinese manufacturing activity indicated in data released Wednesday.

“It does indicate that (energy) demand in China is strong in relation to its industrial sector,” he told AFP.

The HSBC China Purchasing Manager’s Index, an indicator of Chinese manufacturing activity, rose to a five-month high of 52.9 in September, compared with 51.9 last month, media reports said.