Investing.com - " Crude oil futures were little changed during early European trading hours on Friday, as recent U.S. data added to speculation the Federal Reserve could begin tapering its stimulus program sooner than anticipated.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light sweet crude futures for delivery in December traded at USD96.43 a barrel during European morning trade, up 0.05%.
The December contract settled down 0.40% at USD96.38 a barrel on Thursday.
Oil futures were likely to find support at USD95.95 a barrel, the low from October 24 and resistance at USD97.81 a barrel, the high from October 30.
The dollar remained supported after the Chicago manufacturing purchasing managers' index on Thursday jumped to 65.9 in October from 55.7 in September. Analysts had expected the index to decline to 55.0 this month.
A separate report showed that that the number of people who filed for unemployment assistance in the U.S. fell broadly in line with market expectations last week.
The U.S. Department of Labor said earlier that the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits declined by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 340,000 last week.
Analysts had expected U.S. jobless claims to fall by 11,000 to 350,000 last week from the previous week's total of 350,000.
The data fuelled speculation that the Fed may start tapering stimulus sooner than expected, after the bank sounded more optimistic than anticipated in its assessment of the economy on Wednesday.
The Fed left its USD85 billion-a-month asset purchase program in place following its monthly policy meeting and gave no clear indication whether it would start scaling back stimulus at the December meeting or continue it into the start of 2014.
A stronger dollar reduces demand for raw materials as an alternative investment and makes dollar-priced commodities more expensive for holders of other currencies.
Meanwhile, oil prices found some support after China's official purchasing managers' index released earlier in the day rose to 51.4 in Octoer, the highest in 18 months, from 51.1 in September.
China is the world's second-biggest oil consumer.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange, Brent oil futures for November delivery rose 0.40% to trade at USD109.28 a barrel, with the spread between the Brent and crude contracts standing at USD12.85 a barrel.
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