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Oil prices mixed amid Chinese, US data

Oil prices were mixed on Thursday following positive Chinese manufacturing data and as the United States prepared to update markets on the levels of its energy stockpiles.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in March fell 16 cents to stand at $112.64 a barrel in London midday deals.

New York's main contract, WTI light sweet crude for March gained 19 cents to $95.42 a barrel.

Thursday's Chinese data "saw an initial knee-jerk spike higher for crude prices," said Jack Pollard, analyst at Sucden brokers.

Sentiment was given a boost by figures from British bank HSBC showing China's manufacturing activity in January hitting a two-year high.

HSBC's preliminary purchasing managers' index (PMI) climbed to 51.9 in January, the highest level since January 2011, and up from last month's 51.5.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the key sector, while one below signals contraction.

China is the world's biggest consumer, while the United States uses more crude oil than any other country. Later Thursday, Washington publishes its weekly energy inventory data, a day later than usual owing to a US public holiday last Monday.

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