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Oil nearly flat as macroeconomic concerns contend with tighter US supply

Oil prices were nearly flat on Wednesday as signs of tighter U.S. supplies countered economic data that dampened the outlook for energy demand.

Brent crude futures edged higher 2 cents to $88.09 a barrel as of 0003 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures dipped 5 cents to $83.69 a barrel.

The benchmark prices have fallen in each of the previous three sessions.

Industry data showed U.S. crude supplies tightening by about 2.7 million barrels in the week ended on Oct. 20, according to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures on Tuesday. That went against eight analysts polled by Reuters who had estimated on average that crude inventories were up by about 200,000 barrels for the week. [API/S]

U.S. government data on inventories is due later on Wednesday. [EIA/S]

Meantime, euro zone business activity data took a surprise downturn this month, suggesting the bloc may slip into recession, which would drag on the outlook for oil demand.

German readings suggested a recession in that country is underway. Britain’s businesses reported another monthly decline in activity, highlighting recession risks ahead of the Bank of England’s interest rate decision next week.

Investors kept an eye on the Middle East as well, as market participants fear a widening of the conflict there could roil oil markets and disrupt supplies.

Countries including the United States, Canada, Russia and Arab states pushed for a pause or ceasefire in fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip so that humanitarian aid could be delivered to besieged Palestinian civilians.

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