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Oil dips on China manufacturing data

The price of oil dipped slightly on Monday as a report on manufacturing in China signaled that a recovery in the world's No. 2 economy would continue to be uneven.

Benchmark U.S. crude for January delivery edged 23 cents lower, or 0.2 percent, to US$96.37 a barrel at midday in Asia in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Investors were also staying on the sidelines ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's meeting to decide on whether to maintain its US$85 billion in monetary stimulus.

Expectations are growing that the Federal Open Market Committee might decide at its meeting, held on Tuesday and Wednesday, to start cutting back on the stimulus following some recent strong U.S. economic data reports and signs of an imminent budget agreement in Congress.

Any reduction of stimulus would likely result in a stronger dollar, making commodities priced in the greenback more expensive to foreign buyers, driving down demand.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, was up 40 cents to US$108.72 a barrel on the ICE exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline was little changed at US$2.6496 a gallon.

— Heating oil was little changed at US$2.983 gallon

— Natural gas dropped 0.1 cents to US$4.282 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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