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Oil prices stay steady at nearly US$92 a barrel in Asian trade

BANGKOK--Oil prices were nearly unchanged Thursday in Asia as traders weighed signs of economic recovery in China against an increase in U.S. crude supplies.

Benchmark oil for November delivery was up 4 cents at US$92.16 per barrel at late afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 3 cents to settle at US$92.12 a barrel on Wednesday.

The Chinese economy grew 7.4 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier. That was down from 7.6 percent growth in the previous three months but a much gentler decline than in earlier quarters. The leveling out of China's growth slump along with an improvement in retail sales and investment in big ticket items such as factories suggested a recovery is taking shape.

But the U.S. government reported a bigger-than-expected increase in U.S. crude stocks on Wednesday with supplies up by 2.9 million barrels last week. The extra oil in storage tends to push prices down.

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