Oil prices mixed after US, China data

Crude oil prices were mixed Monday as a weak reading in US manufacturing data for November offset an encouraging rebound in China's manufacturing sector.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in January, finished at $89.09 a barrel, up a meager 18 cents from Friday's closing level.

In London trade, Brent North Sea crude for January fell 31 cents to $110.92 a barrel

The New York benchmark contract, which opened higher and briefly topped $90, headed south after the Institute for Supply Management reported US manufacturing activity contracted in November following two straight months of gains.

The November reading was the lowest level of activity since July 2009.

Wall Street equities fell on the news and the oil market eventually followed "because if manufacturing has slowed to such a pace, that is indicative of headwinds in the economy," said Andy Lipow at Lipow Oil Associates.

Earlier, traders' found renewed hope for demand from China, the world's largest overall energy consumer.

Banking giant HSBC said that its index for Chinese manufacturing returned to growth in November after a full year of contraction.

Qu Hongbin, a Hong Kong-based economist with HSBC, said: "This confirms the Chinese economy continues to recover gradually."

The bank expects China's economic growth to pick up modestly to around eight percent in the fourth quarter as government "easing measures continue to filter through," he added.

"On the demand side we should see rising expectations as China's manufacturing sector seemed to be turning the corner," said Phil Flynn of Price Futures Group.

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