Oil prices dropped on Monday as data showing weak manufacturing activity in China fuelled concerns over energy demand in the world's second largest economy, analysts said. New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in March, eased 25 cents to $97.24 a barrel. Brent North Sea crude for March slid 45 cents to stand at $105.70 a barrel in London deals. "Commodity prices are currently under pressure due to weaker-than-expected data on Chinese manufacturing activity," Desmond Chua, analyst at traders CMC Markets, told AFP. China on Saturday said manufacturing activity slipped to a five-month low in January, confirming a slowdown in factory activity in the world's top energy consumer. The monthly purchasing managers' index (PMI) declined to 50.5 in January after recording 51 in December and 51.4 in November, according to the government's National Bureau of Statistics and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing. Any figure above the 50 mark indicates expansion of manufacturing activity while anything below that signals contraction. The news came days after banking giant HSBC said its PMI for China hit a six-month low of 49.5 last month. Singapore-based Chua said investors will be keeping a close watch on US non-farm payrolls and unemployment data due out on Friday. "Investors will be focused on the jobs data to see if the disappointing December numbers are a one-off as the US Federal Reserve has said, or if it is the start of something larger," he noted. The US Labor Department last month said the US economy added just 74,000 jobs in December, well below the 197,000 expected by analysts. The unemployment rate fell 0.3 percentage point to 6.7 percent, the lowest since October 2008, mainly due to people dropping out of the labour force.