Oil Up as China Manufacturing Offsets Weak U.S. Data

NEW YORK (AP) -- The price of oil rose slightly Monday as a strong manufacturing report from China countered a weak one here at home.

An index measuring manufacturing in China showed expansion in November for the first time in 13 months. China is the world's second-largest economy after the U.S. and a huge consumer of oil. A better economy there suggests that energy consumption is likely to grow, pushing oil prices higher.

But in the U.S. manufacturing shrank in November to its weakest level since July 2009. The impact of Superstorm Sandy and worries about automatic tax increases that could take effect in January combined to reduce factory orders and manufacturing jobs, the Institute for Supply Management said.

Around midday, benchmark oil rose 25 cents to $89.16 per barrel. Before the U.S. report was released around 10 a.m. Eastern, oil topped $90 for the first time since Oct. 22.

The price at the pump continued to fall Monday, reaching just under $3.39 a gallon, down 3 cents in a week. The national average is still higher than the $3.28 a gallon this time last year.

Overseas, European finance ministers will hear details of a plan for Greece to reduce its heavy debt by buying some of it back at bargain prices. Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, fell 22 cents to $111.01 on the ICE Futures Exchange in London.

Other futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange:

  • Heating oil was flat at $3.06 a gallon
  • Natural gas rose 6 cents to $3.62 per 1,000 cubic feet
  • Wholesale gasoline was flat at $2.73 a gallon.

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