Crude oil prices in Asia were flat ahead of the HSBC (LONDON:HSBA) China flash PMI for March and industry data on U.S. stockpiles later in the day. In China, the March flash reading of the HSBC PMI will be released at 09:45 Beijing time (0145 GMT) and is expected at 50.6, a slight downtick from 50.7 in February. On Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute will release figures of estimated crude, distillate and gasoline stocks last week. The data is followed by more closely watched estimates from the Department of Energy on Wednesday. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, WTI crude for May delivery was flat at $47.46 a barrel. Crude oil futures soared on Monday, as the euro continued its steady rally against the dollar upon expectations of an interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve at some point this year. On the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), Brent crude for May delivery also increased 1.08% or 0.59 to $55.92 on Monday. Crude future prices spiked on the first day of trading this week despite comments by Saudi Arabia’s oil minister on global supply levels one day earlier. Speaking at a conference in Riyadh, Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi denied that there was a “conspiracy theory” behind Opec’s decision in November to keep oil output unchanged. “There is no conspiracy and we tried to correct all the things that have been said, but nobody listens,” he said. “We are not against anybody, we are with whoever wants to maintain market stability and the balance between supply and demand with regards to the price the market decides it.” Elsewhere, Schlumberger Ltd. CEO Paal Kibsgaard said on Monday that he expects oil production in North America to continue to grow for the remainder of the year, before falling in 2016. In spite of steady reductions in rig counts, oil is being pumped in the United States at its fastest rate in more than 30 years. In turn, the rapid increase in U.S. shale production has allowed oil providers to cut spending on oil exploration internationally, he added. Speaking at the Scotia Howard Weil Energy conference in New Orleans, Kibsgaard indicated that the spending cuts could restrain escalating production levels, spurring price increases in oil during the second half of the year. Schlumberger Ltd., the world’s top oilfield services provider, employs approximately 120,000 people and has main offices in Houston, Paris and London. Crude oil prices have declined nearly 50% since last July and are down from roughly $75 a barrel since Opec decided to keep supply levels constant in late-November.