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Report on China sends oil prices up

Andrew D. Brosig/The Daily Sentinel via Associated Press

The national average at the pump yesterday was $3.38 per gallon, 15 cents more than it was a month ago.

Oil prices rose yesterday on signs that China, the world’s second-largest economy, may avoid a significant slowdown.

China said its economy grew by 8.9 percent in the fourth quarter, which was slower than the previous quarter. Experts say that level is still robust. Retail and factory production improved in December. Oil demand increased 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter from a year ago and was up 6.4 percent in 2011 from 2010, according to data cited by Barclays Capital.

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Benchmark US crude rose $2.01, or 2 percent, to finish at $100.71 per barrel in New York. Brent crude rose 19 cents to end at $111.53 a barrel in London.

China is the world’s second-largest oil consumer after the United States. It is also one of the biggest importers of commodities and raw materials, so its economic growth can affect countries that provide crude oil and raw materials such as iron ore, copper, and soybeans.

Elsewhere natural gas prices were at a 10-year low as mild winter weather in many parts of the United States kept thermostats turned down.

Forecasters see above-average temperatures persisting. The nation’s natural gas supplies remain well above the five-year average.

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