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Oil falls to near $97 a barrel as survey shows deterioration in China manufacturing

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The price of oil dropped Monday after a survey released on the weekend showed a slight deterioration in China's manufacturing.

Benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery was down 17 cents to $97.32 a barrel at 0600 GMT on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 74 cents Friday to close at $97.49 a barrel.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, was down 9 cents to $106.31 on the ICE exchange in London.

A factory purchasing managers index reported Saturday by the government-affiliated China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing fell from 51 in December to 50.5 in January, just above the 50 level that signifies expansion in manufacturing.

Weaker manufacturing in China could reduce global demand for energy imports but the survey results may reflect Chinese New Year effects. This year the holiday spans late January and early February, reducing working days in both months.

Prices were pulled down late last week following forecasts of warmer weather in the U.S., following a spate of extreme cold in many areas.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

—Wholesale gasoline was down 0.6 cent at $2.637 a gallon

—Heating oil dropped 0.7 cent to $3.004 a gallon.

—Natural gas fell 11 cents to $4.833 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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