Gains were capped by poor economic data from China, whose purchasing managers' index was weaker than expected. The data took away from the nation's momentum, as investors who optimistically predicted that the energy consuming giant was recovering quickly were forced to consider that the country's stunted economy was making only a modest recovery.
However, conflicting data from HSBC showed that China's manufacturing sector reached a two year high in January; backing bullish traders who believe the Chinese economy is picking up.
Investors will also be watching for U.S. Non-Farm payroll data, which is set to be released at 1:30 GMT on Friday. Analysts are expecting the data to show a rise in jobs alongside a steady unemployment rate. The data, likely to be scoured for clues about the country's economic health and future fuel demand, could drag down oil prices if it falls short of expectations.
The largest driver of Brent prices at the moment is escalating tension in the Middle East as Syria continues a bloody civil war that threatens to break through the country's borders.
According to Reuters, Syrian officials went to the United Nations on Thursday to warn of a possible “surprise” response to the Israeli airstrike that took place on Wednesday.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to prevent the war from spreading by urging Russia and Iran to withdraw their support for Syria.
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