(New York) Oil prices ended almost at equilibrium on Tuesday despite surprise figures from the Chinese economy, traders remaining cautious about the health of global demand for black gold.

The price of a barrel of Brent North Sea oil for June delivery climbed one cent (0.01%) to close at $84.77.

The barrel of American West Texas Intermediate (WTI), with expiry in May, nibbled 0.03%, to 80.86 dollars.

“We went up with the Chinese indicators, which we can think of as good news” for the crude market, “but it fell back,” noted Stephen Schork, analyst and author of the Schork Report.

China posted 4.5% year-on-year growth in the first quarter, significantly better than the 4% expected by economists.

But behind that headline, traders saw a more mixed picture, with some sectors struggling, notably consumer electronics, and weak growth in private investment.

“The question is whether this rebound in consumption will have enough vigor to drag the economy through the end of the year,” Duncan Wrigley of Pantheon Macroeconomics said in a note.

“If the United States falls into recession and other economies stagnate or contract, Chinese factories will receive few export orders,” commented Susannah Streeter of Hargreaves Lansdown.

For Edward Moya, of Oanda, concerns about the strength of demand were also fueled on Tuesday by the fall in April of the monthly barometer measuring the sentiment of investors in Germany (ZEW), while economists anticipated an increase. .

A new bout of dollar weakness offered some breathing room in this atmosphere marked by a chronic lack of conviction.

“The market is in a waiting position,” according to Stephen Schork, “to see if demand picks up again. »

Operators will thus closely follow the weekly report on American stocks, expected on Wednesday, to hear from American motorists, as the summer season approaches.

Analysts expect U.S. crude inventories to drop 500,000 barrels last week, according to a consensus compiled by Bloomberg, after a surprise rise in the prior period.