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London (AFP) – Oil prices diverged Monday as dealers digested news that Chinese manufacturing activity shrank in March to an eight-month low, stoking demand concerns in the world’s biggest energy consuming nation.

In late afternoon deals, Brent North Sea crude for May dipped five cents to $106.87 a barrel, from Friday’s closing level.

New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in May delivery, firmed four cents to $99.50 per barrel.

“Brent crude has fallen back … as poor Chinese PMI data continues to worry traders that demand in the world’s largest economy is going to slow over the coming months,” said analyst Joe Conlan at consultancy Inenco.

“China’s manufacturing activity shrank for a third straight month in March according to a preliminary survey released ahead of next week’s official data.

He added: “There is a feeling in the market that with the economy slowing in China, there could be a move from the Beijing government to stimulate” the nation’s economy.

HSBC said preliminary readings showed Chinese factory activity had contracted in March, adding to concerns about the world’s number two economy.

The banking giant’s flash purchasing managers index (PMI) came in at 48.1, an eight-month low and down from 48.5 in February. A final figure will be released next week.

Anything below 50 indicates contraction while a figure above points to expansion.

The index is a closely watched gauge of the health of the Asian economic powerhouse and key driver of global growth.

Adding to selling pressure was a stronger dollar that makes oil denominated in the U.S. unit more expensive for traders using rival currencies, dampening demand.

The dollar rallied last week after Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen suggested U.S. interest rates could be hiked early next year.

AFP Photo/Karen Bleier

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From left Reps. Paul Gosar, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, and Louis Gohmert

Screenshot from The Hill video

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and three other “Sedition Caucus” Republicans held a press conference Tuesday allegedly to decry the conditions at the D.C. jail, which is housing accused suspects awaiting trial for actions during the January 6 Capitol riot. But Greene and her three co-members used the event primarily to further false far-right claims about the insurrection, while wrongly claiming they are being “persecuted” by the government – a talking point Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly used.

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Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir.

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