The price of oil crept up toward $95 a barrel Tuesday after China's central bank injected credit into the financial system to offset concerns about slower economic growth, and experts raised their forecast for global crude demand.
By early afternoon in Europe, U.S. crude for February delivery was up 23 cents at $94.60 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange after dipping as low as $93.70 on Monday. The February contract expires later Tuesday and most trading has moved to the March contract, which was up 30 cents at $94.89.
Prices tumbled Monday after China's fourth-quarter economic growth declined from the previous quarter and other data suggested activity might slow further. But confidence rebounded after the Chinese central bank announced late in the day it would inject additional money into the financial system, reducing fears of a credit squeeze.
Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency raised its demand forecast for 2014 by 90,000 barrels a day and now sees global appetite for crude reaching 92.5 million barrels a day.
Though it remains fragile, demand from Western industrialized nations is set to rise for the first time since 2010, the Paris-based IEA said, also noting that domestic crude production in the United States in 2013 was 990,000 barrels a day higher than a year earlier.
This increase was "one of the largest annual gains on record for any country" and helped offset the impact of supply declines at other sources, like Libya and Iran, the IEA said.
"Global oil demand growth appears to have gradually gained momentum in the last 18 months, driven by economic recovery in the developed world," the IEA said in its monthly report on the oil market.
Prices have recently also been affected by reports that Libyan officials intend to regain from rebels the control over oil export facilities in the country's east. That raised the prospect of more crude feeding already brimming global stockpiles. However, the impact on markets of such pledges, which in past months have gone unfulfilled, has diminished somewhat.
Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, was up $1.25 at $107.73 on the ICE exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on Nymex:
— Wholesale gasoline rose 3.77 cents to $2.6686 per gallon.
— Natural gas added 4.4 cents to $4.37 per 1,000 cubic feet.
— Heating oil added 3 cents to $2.984 per gallon.
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