New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in November was down four cents to USD 104.71 in mid-morning trade, while Brent North Sea crude for November gained one cent to USD 109.23.
Global banking giant HSBC on Monday said its preliminary purchasing managers' index for the manufacturing sector in China hit 51.2 in September, the highest since March when the index stood at 51.6.
It was higher than last month's final reading of 50.1, which improved from an 11-month low of 47.7 in July and ended three months of contraction, according to the bank.
A PMI reading above 50 indicates growth, while anything below signals contraction. "There is an upbeat sentiment about demand for crude in China, especially with the Chinese government providing support in the money markets and allowing corporations to pick up speed," Kenny Kan, market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore, said.
Chinese authorities have so far been reluctant to introduce large-scale stimulus measures, but in late July did announce some steps to boost growth, such as reducing taxes on small companies and encouraging railway development.
Meanwhile, investors continue to closely track developments in Syria, after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Washington of blackmailing Moscow over a tough UN resolution against the war-torn country.
Investors worry that any punitive military strike against Syria for its use of its toxic arsenal on its own citizens may destabilise the crude-rich Middle East and cause oil prices to surge.


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