Oil prices hit new lows

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London - Oil prices dropped to fresh multi-week low points on Monday, weighed down by economic strains in China and the United States, the world's two-biggest crude consuming countries, analysts said.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in April reached $109.61 a barrel - the lowest point for six weeks. In later London trading, it stood at $110.04, a loss of 36 cents compared with Friday's closing level.

On Monday, New York's main contract, light sweet crude for April, slid to a two-month trough of $89.51 a barrel. It later traded at $89.85, down 83 cents compared with Friday.

China's official purchasing managers' index released on Friday showed growth in manufacturing activity slowed last month, suggesting a recent pick-up in the world's number two economy is weaker than initially thought.

Sentiment was hurt also as across-the-board cuts of $85-billion in federal spending in the United States kicked in on Friday.

Economists have warned that the cuts could lead to job losses and hinder growth in the still fragile economy, a key global economic engine.

The spending cuts “won't brighten the outlook for growth or the unemployment rate”, DBS Group Research said in a report.

United States President Barack Obama on Saturday urged Congress to find a balanced approach by blending “smart” cuts with reforms. - Sapa-AFP

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