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Oil futures edge up after China-export-data bump

Published: January 10, 2013 | 8:43 am
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HONG KONG — Crude-oil futures rose in electronic trading Thursday as data showing a surprisingly strong increase in China’s exports spurred investors’ appetite for risk even as the U.S. dollar stayed firm.

The February contract for light-sweet-oil futures (NMN:CLG3) climbed 41 cents, or 0.4%, to $93.51 a barrel in afternoon trading in Asia.

The front-month contract had slipped 5 cents in a regular session on the New York Mercantile Exchange overnight, after U.S. government data showed a bigger-than-expected jump in the nation’s gasoline and distillate supplies.

The advance in oil came after official data released earlier on Thursday showed China’s exports beat expectations with a 14.1% year-on-year jump in December, boosting the nation’s trade surplus to $31.6 billion. Read more about China’s exports and December trade surplus.

China imported 23.67 million tons of crude oil in December, compared with 23.37 million tons the previous month, according to a Reuters report.

“A recovery in underlying demand and the addition of new capacity led to a rebound in imports” in the fourth quarter of 2012, Barclays analyst Sijin Cheng wrote in a note to clients, referring to the Chinese imports data.

Weather issue

However, the capacity additions during the month haven’t yet led to a strong outflow of refined petroleum products from the country, as “freezing weather in many parts of the country likely raised the need for fuel cover,” Cheng added.

The ICE dollar index (NYE:DXY) , which measures the greenback’s moves against six major global currencies, was at 80.598, compared with 80.514 late Wednesday in North America, although it fell from the day’s highs after the Chinese data were released.

Among other petroleum futures, the February contract for gasoline (NMN:RBG3) inched up 0.1% to $2.78 a gallon, while heating-oil futures (NMN:HOG3) for delivery in the same month gained 0.3% to $3.08 per gallon.

February futures for natural-gas added 0.8% to $3.14 per million British thermal units.

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