Oil marked time near $106 a barrel on Monday as traders navigated conflicting signals about the strength of future demand: slowing China growth and plunging U.S. fuel stockpiles.
Benchmark crude for August delivery was up 3 cents at $105.98 a barrel at early afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract jumped $1.04 to $105.95 in New York on Friday.
Oil is up about 10 percent so far this month. It has been jolted higher by unexpectedly sharp drops in U.S. crude and gasoline inventories, which suggest stronger demand. The military ouster in early July of Egypt's president has also added a premium to crude, reflecting supply disruption risks from political instability in a country that controls the Suez Canal.
Those factors were tempered Monday by a second straight quarter of slowing economic growth in China. The world's No. 2 economy expanded 7.5 percent in the April-June quarter after 7.7 percent growth in the previous quarter.
Asian stock markets brushed off the Chinese data as it met expectations and some analysts had expected an even sharper slowdown. Still, it was China's weakest growth since 1991 and will temper its appetite for crude and other fuels.
Brent crude was down 3 cents at $107.90 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on Nymex:
- Wholesale gasoline was down 1.2 cents at $3.032 a gallon.
- Heating oil slipped 0.1 cent to $3.03 a gallon.
- Natural gas added 2.7 cents to $3.671 per 1,000 cubic feet.