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updated: 1/10/2013 7:11 AM

Oil up as China trade, US earnings show recovery

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Associated Press

BANGKOK -- Oil prices rose Thursday, propelled by a rebound in China's trade growth and an encouraging start to the U.S. corporate earnings season.

Benchmark crude for February delivery was up 39 cents to $93.49 per barrel at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract slipped 5 cents to end at $93.10 per barrel in New York on Wednesday on the heels of rising U.S. crude supplies.

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Data released Thursday showed China's export growth in December more than quadrupled from the previous month to 14 percent. Imports rose 6 percent, after failing to grow at all in November, in a sign of increasing domestic demand.

The data was a boost for energy prices, since a pickup in economic activity in the world's second-largest economy could boost demand for oil.

In the U.S., corporate reporting season began with better-than-expected results. That helped lift stocks on Wall Street and in Asia, and energy prices tailgated on the gains.

Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, rose 6 cents to $111.82 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

-- Wholesale gasoline was nearly unchanged at $2.778 a gallon.

-- Heating oil rose 0.5 cent to $3.075 a gallon.

-- Natural gas was up 2.5 cents to $3.138 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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