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West Texas Intermediate crude fell below $90 a barrel for the first time in more than two months as service industries in China expanded at the slowest pace in five months in February.
Prices declined for a third day as the expansion of the non-manufacturing industry in China, the world’s second-largest oil-consuming country after the U.S., was the slowest since September after a gauge of new orders declined. Measures released March 1 pointed to manufacturing growth cooling. Money managers cut bets on rising oil prices in the week ended Feb. 26, according to data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
China’s non-manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 54.5 in February from 56.2 in January, the Beijing-based National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said in a weekend statement. The index’s reading has been above 50, which indicates expansion, for at least two years.
A gauge of new orders declined 1.9 points from January to 51.8, the weakest reading since October. The federation’s manufacturing PMI released March 1 dropped to 50.1, the weakest level in five months.
WTI for April delivery slid to $89.51 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Brent for April settlement dropped 60 cents to $109.80 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.
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