SINGAPORE, Jan 24, 2013 (AFP) -Oil prices were mixed in Asia Thursday, with traders selling Brent crude for West Texas Intermediate (WTI), analysts said, but the market was lifted by upbeat Chinese manufacturing data.
New York's main contract, WTI light sweet crude for delivery in March gained 26 cents to $95.49 a barrel while Brent North Sea crude for March delivery dropped 13 cents to $112.67.
"Traders have been moving from Brent to WTI," said Jason Hughes, head of premium client management at IG markets Singapore.
Sentiment was given a boost by data from British bank HSBC Thursday showing China's manufacturing activity in January hitting a two-year high.
HSBC's preliminary purchasing managers' index (PMI) climbed to 51.9 in January, its highest level since January 2011, and up from last month's 51.5.
A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the key sector, while one below signals contraction.
Qu Hongbin, a Hong Kong-based economist with HSBC, said: "Thanks to the continuous gains in new business, manufacturers accelerated production by additional hiring and more purchases.
"Despite the still tepid external demand, the domestic-driven re-stocking process is likely to add steam to China's ongoing recovery in the coming months."
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