Brent was steady at $106.03 per barrel, after slipping by 20 cents, while US crude dropped by 43 cents to $93.87 per barrel, reported Reuters.
US crude fell after inventory data showed that crude rose by 5.1 million barrels, against analyst forecast of a 1.5 million-barrel rise.
In March, Chinese imports jumped 14.1%, while exports rose by ten percent, easing worries over the restrained import growth of previous months. Crude imports fell ny 2.1% from a year ago, in proportion to market expectations.
Refineries in China processed nearly ten million bpd of oil in the first two months of 2013, a level close to the record rate of 10.15 million bpd in December 2012.
In the US, recent jobs data could not uplift market sentiments; on Friday, the US Labor Department said employers added 88,000 jobs outside farming, which is less than half the analyst projection of a 200,000 rise.
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Oil prices have also received support from the geopolitical tensions escalating in both Iran and North Korea.
Tension in the Korean peninsula soared following North Korea’s move to shift one long-range missile in preparation for a possible launch, while South Korea said it had increased its surveillance.
Meanwhile, Iran announced it had commenced operations at two uranium mines and a milling plant, after weekend negotiations to resolve the dispute between western powers ended in a deadlock.
Image: Chinese imports rose by 14.1%, while exports rose by ten percent in March. Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos / potowizard.