Oil prices fell this week as China’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for the manufacturing sector dropped to a six-month low in January, weighing on crude prices over demand concerns.

Brent crude dropped by $0.3 to $106.37 a barrel, while US oil was down by $0.33 cents to $97.16, reported Reuters.

Oil prices dropped after the National Bureau of Statistics said that China’s factory growth PMI fell to 50.5 in January compared to 51 in December.

According to Monday’s data, Chinese PMI on the services sector fell to 53.4 in January, the lowest since December 2008, though it is still above 50, which indicates growth.

"Iraq’s Oil Minister Abdul Kareem Luaibi said that crude exports dropped to an average of 2.23 million barrels per day in January."

Crude was also under pressure due to a strong dollar index, which was near a two-month high, following last month’s robust US economic data, making crude expensive in other currencies.

But geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and North Africa kept oil prices from dropping further. Oil traders are keeping an eye on the unfolding unrest in Iraq.

The army intensified its shelling of Falluja in preparation for a ground assault to regain control of the city, which has been under the control of militants for a month.

Iraq’s Oil Minister Abdul Kareem Luaibi said that crude exports dropped to an average of 2.23 million barrels per day in January.

In Syria, tension continues as military helicopters dropped more improvised barrel bombs on the northern city of Aleppo, which increased the death toll.

Energy