Oil slips toward $96 a barrel despite stronger Chinese manufacturing

LONDON – The price of oil continued to fall on Friday as concerns over high supplies offset a report showing China’s power-hungry manufacturing sector is strengthening.

Benchmark U.S. crude for December delivery was down 14 cents at $96.24 a barrel by late morning in Europe in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 39 cents on Thursday, leaving it down 5.8 per cent for the month of October.

Ample supplies of crude have weighed on the price in recent weeks. The Energy Department said Wednesday that U.S. supplies increased 4.1 million barrels last week. Over five weeks, supplies have risen by more than 25 million barrels.

But a suggestion of stronger demand came Friday from two reports on Chinese manufacturing that showed an uptick in activity.

That suggests China’s economic recovery could continue to strengthen after growth rebounded to 7.8 per cent in the third quarter from a two-decade low in the previous quarter.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international crude also used by U.S. refineries, fell 26 cents to $108.58 a barrel on the ICE exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline rose 1.8 cents to $2.585 a gallon.

— Heating oil shed 0.5 cents to $2.949 a gallon.

— Natural gas dropped 1.9 cents to $3.562 per 1,000 cubic feet.