Oil pulls higher after Chinese data rattles Brent

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Brent and U.S. crude fell in choppy trading on Monday, with weak Chinese economic data briefly pushing the expiring October Brent contract to a two-year low.

Oil prices fell early on data showing China's factory output grew at the weakest pace in nearly six years in August, while growth in other key sectors also cooled, raising fears the world's second-largest economy may be at risk of a sharp slowdown. However, news that Russia's energy minister would meet OPEC officials cushioning the drop.

News of Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak's meeting on Tuesday with OPEC officials in Vienna, an annual meeting previously slated but coming as oil's price fall piled pressure on Moscow's budget, was cited as helping to pull oil prices off lows on Monday.

October Brent crude, set to expire on Monday, was down 30 cents near $97 a barrel. The contract recovered after falling as low as $96.21, its weakest level since July 2, 2012. November Brent was unchanged at $97.96 a barrel, putting its deficit to October at more than a dollar.

U.S. crude rose 65 cents to settle at $92.92, after falling to near a 16-month hit last week. The U.S. October contract expires on Sept. 22.

New Russian sanctions rolled out

Another supportive factor cited by brokers on Monday was news that seaborne Russian oil exports were seen declining in the fourth quarter of 2014 from the previous quarter.

Lift for prices also came from Monday's New York Federal Reserve report showing manufacturing activity in New York State accelerated at its fastest pace in nearly five years in September, topping expectations for a far more moderate improvement.

Some U.S. economic data on Monday was not supportive for oil. U.S. manufacturing output fell for the first time in seven months in August. Factory production dropped 0.4 percent last month after surging in July, the Federal Reserve said. July's factory output gain was revised lower to show a 0.7 percent increase rather than the previously reported 1.0 percent rise.

--By Reuters