Oil prices eased in Asian trade today on receding fears of an immediate US intervention in Syria but upbeat global economic data capped losses, analysts said. New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in October, was down USD 1.01 at USD 106.64, while Brent North Sea crude for October shed 19 cents to USD 114.14.
"Concerns that Syria might retaliate when the US eventually strikes have already been priced in by investors," Kelly Teoh, market strategist at IG Markets in Singapore, told AFP. "The focus for now will be on the global macroeconomic situation, and investor sentiment right now is faring better than in previous months," she said. The potential for a US strike on Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons has been put on the backburner after President Barack Obama said he will seek support for action from Congress, which will return from recess yesterday.
Meanwhile, data over the weekend showed that China's official purchasing managers' index (PMI) of manufacturing hit 51.0 last month, up from 50.3 in July and the best reading since April last year. Anything above 50 points to growth while anything below suggests contraction. The results follow a slew of recent upbeat data that suggest a slowdown in the world's top energy consumer and key driver of global growth may have come to an end.
Added to the rosy Chinese data, eurozone manufacturing activity hit a 26-month high in August, confirming other data that shows the bloc coming out of a deep recession. A Markit Economics survey released Monday showed the PMI for the 17-nation bloc's manufacturing sector jumped to 51.4 points in August, from 50.3 in July.