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Oil near $107 after mixed U.S. demand signs

U.S. crude and oil product inventories were mixed last week. The American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday that crude inventories rose 521,000 barrels. Inventories of gasoline fell 916,000 barrels last week while distillates dropped 3.3 million barrels, the API said.

By ALEX KENNEDY
The Associated Press

2/29/2012

SINGAPORE — Oil prices rose slightly to near $107 a barrel Wednesday in Asia after a large drop the day before amid mixed signs about the strength of U.S. crude demand.

Benchmark oil for April delivery was up 42 cents to $106.97 late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell by $2.01 to $106.55 per barrel in New York on Tuesday.

Brent crude was up 80 cents to $122.35 per barrel in London.

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U.S. crude and oil product inventories were mixed last week. The American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday that crude inventories rose 521,000 barrels while analysts surveyed by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos., had predicted an increase of 1 million barrels.

Inventories of gasoline fell 916,000 barrels last week while distillates dropped 3.3 million barrels, the API said.

The Energy Department's Energy Information Administration reports its weekly supply data later Wednesday.

An improvement in consumer sentiment helped bolster oil prices in Asia. The Conference Board, a private business research group, said Tuesday that consumer confidence rose to a one-year high in February. However, the government said orders for durable goods in the U.S. in January had the biggest fall in three years.

Crude has jumped from $96 earlier this month amid growing tension over Iran's nuclear program. Investors will be closely watching the latest data on U.S gross domestic product and industrial production due to be released later Wednesday.

In other energy trading, heating oil rose 2.2 cents to $3.24 per gallon and gasoline futures gained 1.7 cents to $3.24 per gallon. Natural gas added 0.6 cent to $2.53 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Kevin Jones of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at kevinj@thetrucker.com.

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