Oil prices traded mixed Tuesday as the market weighed disappointing manufacturing data out of top energy consumer China.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for May delivery added six cents in closing at $47.61 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Brent North Sea crude for May delivery, the global benchmark, settled at $55.11 a barrel in London trade, down 81 cents from Monday's closing level.
While Brent spent most of the session in the red, WTI fluctuated before ending barely in positive territory.
"Prices have been floating around, with no great moves," said Bart Melek, head of commodity strategy at TD Securities.
"The big issue continues to be that the market is expecting more oil, with Saudi Arabia to continue pumping about 10 million barrels a day and US oil inventories expected to increase again."
Traders were bracing for another rise in the US weekly oil inventories report Wednesday. The previous report showed crude oil stockpiles surged to a new record high in the week ending March 13, testing the limits of storage capacity.
"The rise in inventories is expected to bring the storage capacity in the USA around 100 percent some time in April," Melek said.
Data showing an unexpectedly sharp manufacturing slowdown in China exerted some downward pressure on the market. China's manufacturing activity contracted in March at its fastest rate in 11 months, HSBC said Tuesday, suggesting worsening conditions in the world's second-largest economy.
The British bank's preliminary purchasing managers index dipped to 49.2 in March from 50.7 in February. A number below 50 indicates contraction, and above 50 indicates growth.
"The deteriorating PMI confirmed that downside risks to China's 2015 growth have started to materialize," Barclays economists said in a research note.