Oil heads toward $108 as US economy brightens

Price of oil heads toward $108 per barrel as the US economy shows more signs of improvement

Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) -- Oil prices rose Thursday after new U.S. indicators underlined a modest recovery in the world's biggest economy.

Benchmark oil for October delivery was up 72 cents to $107.95 at late afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell Wednesday by $1.31, or 1.2 percent, to close at $107.23 a barrel on the Nymex.

A jump in U.S. auto sales helped brighten the outlook for oil consumption. General Motors and other U.S. carmakers posted strong sales in August, giving the auto industry its best month in six years.

The Federal Reserve also said Wednesday that surveys showed moderate growth throughout the country.

What's more, the economies of the Europe and Japan are finally growing. Japan's central bank said Thursday that the world's No. 3 economy was recovering "moderately." The combined economy of the 17 euro currency nations grew 0.3 percent in the second quarter of 2013 after 18 months of recession. Chinese manufacturing has turned a corner after a prolonged slump.

Investors will be monitoring fresh information on U.S. stockpiles of crude and refined products.

Data for the week ending Aug. 30 is expected to show draws of 2.5 million barrels in crude oil stocks and 1 million barrels in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos. The Energy Department's Energy Information Administration — the market benchmark — will be out on Thursday.

Brent, the benchmark for international crudes, rose 37 cents to $115.28 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London. Prices of Brent have risen sharply due to fears the U.S. could intervene militarily in Syria's civil conflict.

"The likelihood of an international military intervention in the conflict in Syria, and therefore a general deterioration of the security situation in the broader region, increased markedly over the past week due the escalation of violence in the non-OPEC country," said analysts at Goldman Sachs in a newsletter commentary.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline was almost unchanged at $2.865 per gallon.

— Heating oil rose 1 cent to $3.147 per gallon.

— Natural gas was steady at $3.683 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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