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updated: 12/14/2012 7:45 AM

Oil rises above $86 as China factory data improves

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Associated Press

BANGKOK -- The price of oil rose above $86 a barrel Friday, boosted by a survey that showed the recovery in China's manufacturing is gathering strength.

Benchmark crude for January delivery was up 90 cents to $86.79 per barrel at late afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 88 cents to end at $85.89 per barrel in New York on Thursday.

HSBC Corp. said the preliminary version of its monthly Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 50.9 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 represent expanding activity. That was up from November's 50.5. The full report is due out at the end of the month.

The improvement in factory output was a sign that energy consumption might be on the upswing in the world's No. 2 economy. Greater demand from China if sustained could push oil prices higher.

"A lot of news has been generally building up the picture that China is not going to have a hard landing," said Andrew Sullivan, a market analyst in Hong Kong. "I think a lot of the pricing of crude is related to what people expect to be happening going forward as far as consumption is concerned."

Prices fell Thursday over concerns that President Barack Obama and Republican leaders were far from reaching a deal to reduce the budget deficit before the end of the year. Without an agreement, significant tax increases and government spending cuts will automatically take effect -- posing the threat of recession.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of oil, rose 93 cents to $107.39 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

-- Heating oil rose 2.8 cents to $2.972 a gallon.

-- Natural gas lost 2.5 cents to $3.322 per 1,000 cubic feet.

-- Wholesale gasoline rose 2.7 cents to $2.629 a gallon.

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