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Oil rises above USD111 a barrel

Thursday, January 02 11:39:21

Brent crude rose above $111 a barrel today on a decline in oil stockpiles in top consumer the United States and supply cuts in Libya and South Sudan, but slowing economic expansion in China capped gains.

Growth in factory activity in China, the world's second largest oil user, slowed in late 2013, according to purchasing managers' indexes published by the government and HSBC, weighed down by shrinking export orders.

"The Chinese PMI data were not exactly bullish," IHS oil consultant Victor Shum said. "The only thing supporting oil prices is probably the U.S. inventories."

Brent crude rose 37 cents from Tuesday to $111.17 a barrel by 1014 GMT. U.S. crude was at $98.73, up 31 cents. Markets were shut on Wednesday for the New Year.

Data from the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday showed a drop of 5.7 million barrels in U.S. crude stockpiles, nearly double the 3-million-barrel draw expected by analysts surveyed by Reuters.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) will release its data on Jan. 3 due to the holiday.

Lower U.S. inventories helped buoy the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil price in 2013. The average for the past year was $98.05 a barrel, up 4.2 percent from $94.14 in 2012.

The average Brent price for 2013 was $108.70 in 2013, down 2.7 percent from $111.68 in 2012 in a well-supplied market despite disruptions in the Middle East, Africa and North Sea.

Production in Libya, Iran, Iraq and the United States will be closely watched this year, in addition to any signs of further stimulus tapering by the U.S. Federal Reserve.