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Oil little changed near $101 after tumble

The price of oil was little changed near $101 a barrel Tuesday after tumbling because of data suggesting China's economy might continue to slow this year.

Benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery was up 19 cents to $101.31 a barrel at 0655 GMT in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.46 to close at $101.12 on Monday after China reported a steep drop in February exports.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, was up 12 cents to $108.20 on the ICE exchange in London.

Last week, oil was pushed higher by Russia's military incursion into the Crimean peninsula, a largely Russian-speaking region of Ukraine. Russia is one of the world's major producers of oil and there was a possibility the West would respond with economic sanctions against Russia.

Russia has said it is drafting counterproposals to a U.S. plan for a negotiated solution to the crisis, denouncing the new Western-backed government in the Ukraine as unacceptable. Russian forces are strengthening their control over Crimea.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline was unchanged at $2.95 a gallon.

— Heating oil was down 0.3 cent at $2.965 a gallon.

— Natural gas gained 0.6 cent to $4.657 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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