Oil prices edged higher in tug-of-war trading o n Monday as supportive data showing the U.S. manufacturing sector picked up in March and loading delays for North Sea crude cargoes helped counter disappointing economic figures from Europe.
Continue Reading Below
The Institute for Supply Management's index of U.S. factory activity rose to 53.4, from 52.4 in February, topping economists' expectations and keeping the reading above 50, indicating expansion in the sector.
"Oil prices rose on the better-than-expected ISM manufacturing reading as the strength of the U.S. economy continues to offset deteriorating conditions in Europe and concerns over China's slowdown," said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC in New York.
Crude futures added to gains on news that BP had shut in oil output at the Valhall platform last week for compressor maintenance and that according to trade sources, the shutdown would delay loading of seven North Sea Ekofisk cargoes in April.
Brent May crude rose $1.43 to $124.31 a barrel by 11:40 a.m. EDT (1540 GMT), recovering after slumping to $121.70. It gained 14.4 percent in the first quarter.
U.S. May crude rose $1.32 to $104.34 a barrel, having slipped to $102.06, but breaking the fall before threatening the 100-day moving average of $101.32. U.S. crude gained 4.2 percent in the first quarter.
Oil recovered after being pressured early by news the euro zone's manufacturing sector shrank for an eighth month and at a faster pace in March, according to Markit's Eurozone Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index.
The impact from the European figures was reduced by data showing China's big factories were surprisingly busy in March, though credit-constrained smaller manufacturers struggled.
(Additional reporting by Alex Lawler in London and Francis Kan in Singapore; Editing by Dale Hudson)