NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil rose to $94 a barrel Thursday, propelled by a rebound in China's trade growth and an encouraging start to the U.S. corporate earnings season.
Benchmark oil gained 91 cents to $94.01 a barrel in New York. It has now risen more than 9 percent in the past month.
Data released Thursday showed China's export growth in December more than quadrupled from the previous month's level to 14 percent. Imports rose 6 percent, after failing to grow at all in November, in a sign of increasing domestic demand.
Analysts also pointed to an 8 percent year-on-year rise in China's imports of crude oil in December and a 6.8 percent increase for all of 2012. 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.
"It does signal that China's oil demand could make a major rebound and exceed expectations in the first quarter," said Phil Flynn, analyst for the Price Futures Group, wrote in a report.
In the U.S., corporate reporting season began with better-than-expected results. That, and signs of a slowly improving job market, has helped lift stock markets and also boosted energy prices.
Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, was up 78 cents to $112.54 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading in New York:
— Wholesale gasoline added 1 cent to $2.79 a gallon.
— Heating oil rose 2 cents to $3.09 a gallon.
— Natural gas gained 6 cents to $3.19 per 1,000 cubic feet after the government said supplies of the fuel fell more than expected last week.
Pamela Sampson in Bangkok contributed to this report.
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