SINGAPORE: Oil prices rose in Asian trade Monday as data showing strong Chinese manufacturing activity fuelled hopes of a pick-up in demand in the world’s top energy consumer.
US benchmark, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in July gained 57 cents to $103.28 a barrel while Brent North Sea crude for July was up 41 cents to stand at $109.82 a barrel in afternoon trade.
Financial markets in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and New Zealand are closed on Monday for public holidays. China’s manufacturing activity strengthened to a five-month high in May, the government said Sunday, an optimistic sign amid slumping growth in the world’s second largest economy.
The official purchasing managers index (PMI) reached 50.8 in May, the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement, up from 50.4 in March.
The index tracks manufacturing activity in China’s factories and workshops and is a closely watched indicator of the health of the economy. A reading above 50 indicates growth.
Desmond Chua, market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore, said the data had a “positive overriding sentiment” on oil prices.
“This is the first time there is a steep rebound by new orders . . . which has been the declining factor in the past six months or so,” Chua told Agence France-Presse.
Analysts said investors will also be closely watching a flurry of US data releases this week for clues about the health of the world’s biggest economy.