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Oil prices rise on hopes of US stimulus

LONDON -- Oil prices rose Monday on hopes of more U.S. financial stimulus aimed at boosting the world's biggest economy, a prospect that was helping to offset disappointing Chinese data, analysts said.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in October gained 73 cents to US$114.98 a barrel in London morning trade.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for October, climbed 15 cents to US$96.57 a barrel.

“Friday's unexpectedly poor U.S. labor market data are giving a boost to commodity prices ... for this makes it appear almost certain that the U.S. Federal Reserve will announce a further round of quantitative easing (stimulus) at its meeting later this week,” said Commerzbank analysts in a note to clients.

China's economy has seen a marked easing over the past year, expanding 7.6 percent in the second quarter of 2012, the worst performance in three years and the sixth-straight quarter of slowing. China is the world's biggest consumer of energy.

Elsewhere, Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi said on Monday that rising oil prices were not justified by market fundamentals, stressing that supply and demand are balanced.

“Saudi Arabia is concerned about rising oil prices in the international oil market. The current high price of oil is simply not supported by market fundamentals,” he said in a statement.

“The market is well balanced, forward cover remains within an acceptable range and inventories are more than adequate,” he added.

Saudi Arabia is the biggest oil producer within the 12-nation Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The Vienna-based cartel accounts for about 40 percent of global crude supplies.

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