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SINGAPORE, July 2, 2010 (AFP)
Oil was up in Asian trade Friday, but weak economic data out of the United States and China, the world’s number one and two energy users respectively, weighed on investor sentiment, analysts said.

New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for August delivery, was up five cents at 73.00 dollars in volatile trading.

Brent North Sea crude, also for August delivery, climbed six cents to 72.40 dollars.

“The recent bearish economic data out of China and the US have hit crude oil…. The bearish data is overwhelming the oil market,” said Victor Shum, a Singapore-based analyst with energy consultancy Purvin and Gertz.

Figures released Thursday showed China’s industrial sector slowing with the HSBC China Manufacturing PMI, or purchasing managers index, falling to 50.4 last month from 52.7 in May.

A Chinese government agency said its PMI fell to 52.1 from 53.9 the previous month.

A 50 reading is the break-even point between growth and contraction.

Meanwhile, the US provided a drumbeat of bad indicators that further rattled sentiment.

The US manufacturing sector, which has been driving the almost year-old fragile economic recovery from recession, grew for the 11th straight month in June but more slowly than expected, an industry survey showed.

The Institute of Supply Management (ISM) said its PMI slipped to 56.2 percent from 59.7 percent in May.

New claims for US unemployment benefits jumped more than expected last week, official data showed Thursday on the eve of the key June jobs report.

And pending US home sales plunged 30 percent in May after an April 30 tax-credit deadline expired, more than twice as much as analysts expected.

“All the bad economic news… leads to the perception that petroleum-product demand growth is going to slow down quite a bit in the next couple of months, especially when people were counting on growth in Asia,” said Andy Lipow of Lipow Oil Associates.

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