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Oil prices mixed in Asian trade

Singapore -

Oil prices were mixed in Asian trade on Tuesday with cold weather in the United States pushing demand for heating fuel higher and credit growth in China also giving support.

Investors, however, were awaiting further fresh leads following the closure of US financial markets on Monday due to a public holiday.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for March delivery, was trading at $100.69 a barrel in the late morning, up 39 cents from Friday's close.

US markets were closed on Monday for Presidents' Day.

European benchmark Brent North Sea crude for April eased 12 cents to $109.06.

“Right now we are looking at a rise in the China credit growth being a surprise on the upside alongside the persistent cold in the US giving a near term support for WTI benchmark,” Desmond Chua, market analyst at CMC markets in Singapore, told AFP.

Loans by Chinese banks reached around 1.3 trillion yuan ($214 billion) in January, up 246.9 billion yuan from the same month a year ago, the People's Bank of China said at the weekend.

The January lending figure beat analyst estimates.

The United States is currently enduring an especially bitter winter, with the midwestern and southern states experiencing unusually low temperatures, driving up demand for heating fuels, of which crude oil is a feedstock.

Investors, meanwhile, are waiting for banking giant HSBC's purchasing manager's index (PMI) data for February from China due to be released on Thursday for clues on the health of the world's second biggest economy.

The January PMI figures showed China's key manufacturing sector contracted for the first time in six months. - Sapa-AFP

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