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Oil down despite China manufacturing bounce

The price of oil fell below US$103 a barrel Thursday, giving back part of its gains from the day before, despite improvements in Chinese manufacturing.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. crude for September delivery was down 20 cents to US$102.92 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

On Wednesday, the Nymex contract gained 73 cents after data released by the Energy Department Wednesday showed a far larger drop in U.S. crude inventories than what analysts had expected.

Brent crude for September delivery, a benchmark for international oils, was down 20 cents to US$107.83 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

The price of oil has stayed above US$100 a barrel after a civilian jetliner was shot out of the sky last week over a part of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists and as Israel's invasion of the Gaza Strip added to risks of instability in the Middle East.

The U.S. data Wednesday showed oil supplies fell by 3.97 million barrels for the week ended July 11. Analysts had expected a drop of 2.6 million barrels, according to a survey by Platts.

In other Nymex trading:

— Wholesale gasoline rose 0.21 cents to US$2.8409 a gallon.

— Heating oil added 0.71 cents to US$2.8928 a gallon.

— Natural gas gained 2.2 cents to US$3.784 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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