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10.01.2013 17:27

Oil rose to the highest level in three months

Oil rose to the highest level in three months as exports from China accelerated in December and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said “a gradual recovery should start” in the region this year.

Prices advanced as much as 1.7 percent after China’s customs agency said overseas sales in the world’s second-largest fuel-consuming country jumped 14.1 percent last month from a year earlier.

Chinese December exports exceeded the 5 percent median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of 40 economists. Exports for all of 2012 rose 7.9 percent, according to the Beijing-based General Administration of Customs. The country’s December trade surplus almost doubled from a year earlier to $31.6 billion.

China imported 271 million metric tons of crude last year, 6.8 percent more than in 2011, the customs agency reported. It ranks behind only the U.S. in term of oil consumption.

Oil also gained as the euro surged against the dollar on Draghi’s remarks. The euro rose as much as 1.2 percent against the dollar on Draghi’s remarks and as Spain sold more than the maximum target at its first debt auction of the year. A stronger common currency and weaker dollar boost oil’s appeal as an investment alternative.

 Oil also gained as Saudi Arabia reduced production in December to a 19-month low, according to a Gulf official with knowledge of the kingdom’s energy policy. Saudi Arabia cut production by 4.9 percent to 9.025 million barrels a day in December, said the official, who asked not to be identified because the information is confidential.

Crude oil for February delivery gained to $94.70, the highest intraday level since Sept. 19.

Brent oil for February settlement increased 44 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $112.20 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Volume was 75 percent above the 100-day average. Brent’s premium to New York futures narrowed to $18.24 a barrel from $18.66 yesterday.

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