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Oil down slightly as US housing offsets China data

The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- The price of oil fell slightly Tuesday, as a slowdown in China's manufacturing offset positive news on the U.S. housing sector.

Benchmark oil for June delivery fell 1 cent to $89.18 a barrel in afternoon trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

A report from HSBC Corp. showed that growth in China's manufacturing sector was less than expected, raising more concerns that oil demand could weaken in the world's second-largest oil-consuming country.

Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos., said Tuesday that China's oil demand was up about 2 percent in March from a year ago and that demand in the first quarter was up 3.5 percent from the same period a year ago. That compares with demand growth of 7.8 percent in the last three months of 2012.

A report showing that U.S. sales of new homes rose in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 417,000 helped pare the losses seen following the China data.

Oil dropped in the early afternoon, then recovered, after the Associated Press' Twitter account was hacked and a fake tweet about an attack on the White House was posted.

The AP released the following statement at 1:12 p.m. EDT: "The (at)AP twitter account has been hacked. The tweet about an attack at the White House is false. We will advise more as soon as possible."

Investors are awaiting fresh information on U.S. stockpiles of crude and refined products.

Data for the week ending April 19 is expected to show a build of 1.4 million barrels in crude oil stocks and a draw of 700,000 barrels in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts.

The American Petroleum Institute will release its report on oil stocks later Tuesday, while the report from the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration — the market benchmark — will be out on Wednesday.

Brent crude, which is used to price oil used by many U.S. refiners, fell 16 cents to $100.20 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

— Gasoline fell 4 cents to $2.72 per gallon.

— Heating oil up 1 cent at $2.80 a gallon.

— Natural gas was flat at $4.26 per 1,000 cubic feet.


Pamela Sampson in Bangkok and Pablo Gorondi in Budapest contributed to this report.