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Oil steadies, US Fed chief’s speech in spotlight

Oil prices steadied after earlier declines on Thursday caused by disappointing economic data from key economies, with investors awaiting a speech by U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Friday for clues on interest rate moves.

Brent crude climbed 6 cents, or 0.1%, to $83.27 a barrel  after dropping to $82.57 earlier in the session. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude rose 4 cents, or 0.1%, to $78.93 a barrel, after falling to $78.22.

Manufacturing data from a host of purchasing managers’ index (PMI) surveys on Wednesday painted a grim picture of the health of economies across the globe, raising demand concerns, analysts said.

Japan reported shrinking factory activity for a third straight month in August. Euro zone business activity also declined more than expected, particularly in Germany. Britain’s economy looked set to shrink in the current quarter, leaving it in danger of falling into recession.

U.S. business activity approached the stagnation point in August, with growth at its weakest since February.

“China’s worsening growth momentum is the primary cause of the deterioration in global manufacturing,” BCA Research analysts said. “This is weighing on European countries where growth remains heavily exposed to Chinese demand, like Germany,” they added.

Meanwhile, Federal Reserve officials and policymakers from the European Central Bank, the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan head to Jackson Hole where higher-for-longer interest rate talk may dominate despite a dip in inflationary pressures.

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