Oil steady near $92 as supplies, China weighed

Oil steady above $92 as traders weigh China recovery signs against US crude supplies increase

Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) -- Oil prices were nearly unchanged Thursday in Asia as traders weighed signs of economic recovery in China against an increase in U.S. crude supplies.

Benchmark oil for November delivery was up 4 cents at $92.16 per barrel at late afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 3 cents to settle at $92.12 a barrel on Wednesday.

The Chinese economy grew 7.4 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier. That was down from 7.6 percent growth in the previous three months but a much gentler decline than in earlier quarters. The leveling out of China's growth slump along with an improvement in retail sales and investment in big ticket items such as factories suggested a recovery is taking shape.

But the U.S. government reported a bigger-than-expected increase in U.S. crude stocks on Wednesday with supplies up by 2.9 million barrels last week. The extra oil in storage tends to push prices down.

Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, rose 21 cents to $113.43 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

— Heating oil rose 0.7 cent to $3.184 per gallon.

— Natural gas fell 0.8 cent to $3.462 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Wholesale gasoline fell 0.2 cent to $2.763 per gallon.

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