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Oil price drops in first session of 2015

NEW YORK: Oil prices finished the first day of 2015 trade lower as disappointing manufacturing data from the US, China and Europe kept pressure on the beaten-down commodity.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for February delivery ended 58 cents lower at $52.69 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

European benchmark Brent oil for February delivery fell 91 cents to $56.42 a barrel in London.

Analysts said a spate of disappointing manufacturing data from major economies gave traders little reason to shift from their bearish outlook on the commodity.

The global economy “still looks relatively weak,” said Michael Lynch of Strategic Energy & Economic Consulting.

“There’s light trading and none of the news was particularly strong, with the feeling that the oversupply situation will continue.”

In the US, the Institute for Supply Management reported Friday that its purchasing managers index for manufacturing fell to 55.5 in December from 58.7 in November.

A similar survey for the eurozone showed the region’s manufacturing PMI stood at 50.6 in December, up from the 50.1 in November, but below the 50.8 initially projected.

Several leading economies, including Austria, France and Italy came in below the 50 level that separates growth from contraction, according to Markit.

China’s PMI for manufacturing slipped from 50.3 in November to 50.1 in December.

Friday’s drop comes on the heels of a nearly 50 percent retreat in crude prices in 2014 due to lofty supply, lackluster economic growth in many regions and a decision by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries against cutting production to prop up prices. (AFP)

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