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China report holds down price of oil

NEW YORK — The price of oil fell slightly Tuesday, as a slowdown in China’s manufacturing offset positive news about the US housing sector.

Benchmark oil for June delivery fell 1 cent to finish at $89.18 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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A report from HSBC Corp. showed that growth in China’s manufacturing sector was less than expected, raising more concerns that oil demand could weaken in the second-largest oil-consuming country.

Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos., said Tuesday that China’s oil demand was up about 2 percent in March from a year earlier and that demand in the first quarter was up 3.5 percent from the same period a year before. That compares with demand growth of 7.8 percent in the last three months of 2012.

A report showing that US sales of new homes rose in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 417,000 buoyed oil prices.

Oil dropped in the early afternoon, then recovered, after the Associated Press’s Twitter account was hacked and a fake tweet about an attack on the White House was posted. There was no attack, the president was fine, and the AP quickly disavowed the tweet.

Investors meanwhile are awaiting fresh information on US stockpiles of crude and refined products. On Wednesday, the Energy Department is expected to release data for the week ending April 19 showing a build of 1.4 million barrels in crude oil stocks and a draw of 700,000 barrels in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts.

Brent crude, which is used to price oil used by many US refiners, on Tuesday fell 8 cents to end at $100.31 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

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