Oil edges lower in Asian trade

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Tokyo - Oil prices edged lower in Asia on Friday as dealers digested downbeat Chinese manufacturing data and tracked the ebbing likelihood of supply disruptions in conflict-hit Iraq, Ukraine and Libya, analysts said.

The US benchmark, West Texas Intermediate for October delivery, dipped 11 cents to $93.85 while Brent crude for October was down 10 cents to $102.53 in mid-morning trade.

“Oil prices have moved lower in Asia-Pacific trading likely weighed by weaker-than-expected Chinese manufacturing data released yesterday,” David Lennox, resource analyst at Fat Prophets in Sydney, told AFP.

The HSBC preliminary purchasing managers index for China's manufacturing sector slipped to 50.3 in August, down from a final reading of 51.7 in July. The figure, released on Thursday, was the lowest for three months, the British banking giant said in a statement.

The indicator is a closely watched gauge of the health of the Asian economic powerhouse, with a reading above 50 indicating the sector is expanding.

“Prices are perhaps also under pressure as dealers stand on the sidelines tracking the various geopolitical crises going on right now,” Lennox said.

“The likelihood of significant disruptions is low for now,” he said.

In Iraq, the Opec oil cartel's second largest producer, Islamist militants who have overrun large swathes of the country's north and west are now being pinned back by US military strikes that began on August 8.

In Libya, another Opec member, crude exports are steadily increasing after a deal between Tripoli and rebels ended a year-long blockade of terminals.

Fears about a full-blown military conflict between Russia and Ukraine have also eased after multi-party talks aimed at diffusing the situation last weekend. - AFP

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