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Brent crude was steady today while US crude experienced significant gain in the wake of China’s positive manufacturing data release, which indicated potential growth in the country’s oil demand.

Brent managed to stay above $112 after posting a drop of three cents and settling at $112.80, while US crude rose by 31 cents to $95.54 a barrel, reported Reuters.

According to analysts, growth in China’s manufacturing sector jumped to a two-year high in January, while oil demand in the country is expected to grow by more than seven percent to 11.3 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2013.

Oil prices received a boost after the American Petroleum Institute released its data on Wednesday, which showed that US crude inventories increased by 3.2 million barrels in the week to 18 January, which is nearly double the expectations of analysts.

In the US, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude prices dropped when the newly expanded Seaway oil pipeline suddenly reduced its crude flow to 175,000 barrels a day.

"A Reuters poll had suggested that the global economy is expected to perform slightly better in 2013."

The pipeline was designed to reduce increasing inventories in Cushing by supplying oil to the Gulf Coast.

On Thursday, Brent and WTI contracts traded in opposite directions, while it widened by nearly $2 a barrel to close at $17.57 a barrel on Tuesday.

Analysts noted that if the US Energy Information Administration’s data shows a more than expected rise in crude stockpiles, it would put additional pressure on WTI.

A Reuters poll had suggested that the global economy is expected to perform slightly better in 2013 and grow by 3.3%, mainly driven by economic revival in Asia.


Image: China’s manufacturing data showed a two-year high rise in January. Photo courtesy of Ecow.