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WTI oil futures bounce off 7-month low after upbeat U.S. data

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Shutterstock photo - - West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures turned higher after hitting a seven-month low on Thursday, as mostly upbeat U.S. economic data underlined optimism over the health of the economy.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil for delivery in October tacked on 0.5%, or 47 cents, to trade at $93.92 a barrel during U.S. morning hours.

New York-traded oil futures hit $92.50 a barrel earlier, the weakest level since January 15.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said that its manufacturing index improved to a three-year high of 28.0 this month from July's reading of 23.9. Analysts had expected the index to decline to 19.2 in August.

At the same time, the National Association of Realtors said that existing home sales increased 2.4% to hit a ten-month high of 5.15 million units last month from 5.03 million in June.

Analysts had expected existing home sales to dip 0.4% to 5.02 million units in July.

Meanwhile, market research group Markit said that its preliminary U.S. manufacturing purchasing managers' index increased to a four-year high of 58.0 this month from a final reading of 55.8 in July. Analysts had expected the index to ease down to 55.7 in August.

Also Thursday, the U.S. Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits decreased by 14,000 to 298,000 last week from the previous week's total of 312,000.

Analysts had expected jobless claims to fall by 12,000 to 300,000 last week.

Investors now looked ahead to the Fed's annual meeting of top central bankers and economists in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, due to begin later Thursday.

The spotlight will be on Fed Chair Janet Yellen, who will speak on Friday in her first appearance at Jackson Hole as head of the U.S. central bank.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil for October delivery shed 0.22%, or 23 cents, to trade at $102.06 a barrel.

London-traded Brent prices fell to $101.07 a barrel on Tuesday, the lowest since June 26, 2013, as concerns over ample global supplies and weak demand weighed.

Data released earlier showed that the preliminary reading of China's HSBC manufacturing index fell to a three-month low of 50.3 in August from 51.7 in July and well short of forecasts for 51.5.

The Asian nation is the world's second largest oil consumer after the U.S. and has been the engine of strengthening demand. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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