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West TX Oil Steady near $49.50 Ahead of U.S. Stockpile Reports

Crude oil prices gained marginally in Asia onb Tuesday ahead of U.S. industry data on supplies that will set a tone.  The American Petroleum Institute will release its estimate of U.S. crude, distillate and gasoline stockpiles last week, with more closely watched data from the U.S. Department of Energy due on Wednesday.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil for delivery in April rose 0.18% to trade at $49.83 a barrel.  Overnight, West Texas Intermediate oil futures shook off earlier weakness on Monday to trade higher as traders digested the latest batch of U.S. economic data in their quest to gauge the strength of the economy.

The Institute for Supply Management said its index of purchasing managers fell to a 13-month low of 52.9 in February from a reading of 53.5 in January. Analysts had expected the manufacturing PMI to decline to 53.0 in February.  The report came after the Commerce Department said that personal spending fell 0.2% in January, worse than expectations for a decline of 0.1% and following a drop of 0.3% in December.

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