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Oil fluctuated near a nine-month high as reports showed manufacturing activity slowed in Europe and China and United Nations inspectors in Iran were denied access to a military base.
Futures fell as much as 0.6 percent after an index based on a survey of euro-region purchasing managers unexpectedly shrank. Manufacturing in China may decline for a fourth month, according to a preliminary index. Oil advanced earlier after officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency were denied access to the Iranian base in Parchin.
A euro-area composite index based on a survey of purchasing managers in the services and manufacturing industries dropped to 49.7 from 50.4 in January, London-based Markit Economics said in an initial estimate today.
China’s manufacturing also may shrink in February, according to the preliminary 49.7 reading of an index from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics. It would be the fourth month factory activity declines as Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis damps exports and the housing market cools. Readings below 50 point to a contraction.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran refused permission to visit the Parchin military base during two days of talks that ended yesterday. An Iranian military commander said his nation would consider preemptive action if threatened.
Crude oil for April delivery traded in range $105.61 - $106.47 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent oil for April settlement climbed $1.22, or 1 percent, to $122.88 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, the highest intraday level since May 4.
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