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Oil rises above US$97, natural gas falls back
Aggregated Source: Shanghai Daily: Business

THE price of oil rose above US$97 a barrel yesterday for the first time in five weeks, boosted by gains in US stock markets and more signs of a strengthening economy.

Benchmark oil for May delivery gained 65 cents to close at US$97.23 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil has gained nearly US$5 per barrel in the past week, driven by encouraging economic indicators.

US stocks set another record yesterday, as the Standard & Poor's 500 topped the closing high it set before the recession. The government said the US economy grew at 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter, up from a previous estimate of 0.1 percent growth. And analysts think the economy is growing at a rate of around 2.5 percent in the current January-March quarter, which ends this week.

Meanwhile the price of natural gas retreated, a day after it closed above US$4 for the first time since Sept. 14, 2011. Natural gas futures fell 4 cents to end at US$4.02 per 1,000 cubic feet. Natural gas has risen 67 cents, or 20 percent, this year as colder weather and greater use of natural gas for power generation have helped whittle away at a large surplus of the fuel in the US.

Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by US refineries, was down 33 cents to finish at US$109.38 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

- Wholesale gasoline fell 1 cent to end at US$3.11 a gallon.

- Heating oil was flat at US$2.92 a gallon.

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