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Oil steady after US manufacturing growth slows

BANGKOK (AP) — The price of oil was steady Tuesday after data showed U.S. manufacturing growth slowed in March.

Benchmark oil for May delivery was up 3 cents to $97.10 per barrel at late afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 16 cents to close at $97.07 a barrel on Monday.

Buying interest was muted by a report showing weaker-than-expected manufacturing growth in the U.S. The Institute for Supply Management said Monday that its index of factory activity slipped to 51.3 percent in March from 54.2 percent in February. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

The report contributed to drops in Asian stock markets, providing a negative cue for oil market trading. But some of the losses were reversed late in the day as stock markets in Europe opened higher.

Analysts at DBS Bank Ltd. in Singapore said the manufacturing figure was a reminder that "growth remains subpar" in the world's largest economy, an engine being counted on to help drive the global economic recovery.

Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by U.S. refineries, was up $1.14 to $111.36 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline fell 0.5 cent to $3.097 a gallon.

— Heating oil rose 2.7 cents to $3.096 a gallon.

— Natural gas was nearly unchanged at $4.013 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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