PAMELA SAMPSON, AP Business Writer
BANGKOK (AP) — The price of oil rose slightly Monday after improved Chinese economic data last week suggested demand for crude might increase.
Benchmark oil for September delivery was up 2 cents to $105.99 a barrel at late afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $2.57, or 2.5 percent, to close at $105.97 on Friday.
“I think we’re seeing a bit of upward momentum from China,” said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney. China said Friday that its factory output and auto sales accelerated in July.
Spooner also said traders were looking ahead to Thursday, when the U.S. government releases inflation figures for July.
The U.S. Federal Reserve has a target of 2 percent for inflation. The fact that inflation is falling below that target has prompted some Fed officials to be concerned about a potential bout of deflation, which could be harmful to economic growth.
Lower-than-anticipated inflation could cause the Fed to delay the scaling back of its stimulus program, which was launched more than four years ago to help the world’s biggest economy weather the fallout from the global financial crisis.
In June, Bernanke said the Fed will likely slow its bond-buying this year and end it in 2014 because the economy is strengthening.
In other energy futures trading on Nymex:
— Heating oil rose 0.1 cent to $2.995 a gallon.
— Natural gas rose 2.8 cents to $3.258 per 1,000 cubic feet.
— Wholesale gasoline fell 0.9 cent to $2.899 a gallon.