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Oil rises on auspicious US economic data
Aggregated Source: Shanghai Daily: Business

THE price of oil climbed above US$96 a barrel yesterday after fresh US economic data suggested the world's largest economy keeps recovering.

Benchmark crude for May delivery gained US$1.53 to finish at a five-week high of US$96.34 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The Commerce Department said that orders for factory-produced durable goods - items expected to last at least three years - rose by 5.7 percent in February over the previous month. That beat consensus forecasts for a 3.7 percent increase after a 4.9 percent drop in January.

Also US home prices rose 8.1 percent in January, the fastest annual rate since the peak of the housing boom in the summer of 2006.

Reports on February new-home sales and March consumer confidence weren't as strong. But the overall picture was of an improving US economy.

Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consultancy Ritterbusch and Associates, expects to see more positive economic numbers. That should boost stock markets, which in turn could support oil.

"We look for strong US economic numbers to continue through the rest of this week with the associated equity gains keeping WTI (benchmark crude) supported at around the US$95-96 region," he said in a note to clients.

Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by US refineries, rose US$1.19 to end at US$109.36 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

- Wholesale gasoline rose 5 cents to finish at US$3.11 a gallon.

- Heating oil added less than a cent to end at US$2.88 a gallon.

- Natural gas advanced by 11 cents to finish at US$3.98 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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Copyright Shanghai Daily: Business