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Oil marks time, trapped between Ukraine and China fears

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Crude rose modestly on Monday, weighed down by Chinese data pointing to lower demand in the world's biggest energy consumer, but supported by potential disruption to oil supplies due to the Ukraine crisis and turmoil in Libya.

China's manufacturing activity shrank in March, a preliminary private survey showed, adding to a string of weak indicators this year that have reinforced concerns about a slowdown. The government aims to reduce the economy's dependence on exports, but investors are worried that growth is cooling faster than expected.

Oil, however, was underpinned by supply concerns with the risk that a confrontation with the West over Ukraine could lead to a disruption of energy supplies from Russia, a major supplier of oil and gas to Europe. Libyan oil exports are also running at more than 1 million barrels per day (bpd) below capacity thanks to civil unrest.

Brent crude for May was down 10 cents under $107 a barrel. The oil benchmark fell for a fourth straight week last week. U.S. oil edged up 14 cents to settle at $99.60 a barrel.

Weaker-than-expected Chinese economic data is raising expectations the government could step in to stimulate the economy. Chinese equities have risen on hopes of a stimulus.

Brent crude has lost almost 4 percent this year, giving up gains after rising to $112 in early March, a more than two-month high, amid geopolitical risks as Russia took control of Ukraine's Crimea region.

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