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Oil price extends gains in Asia as freezing weather continues in US

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The price of oil rose Wednesday in Asia on prospects U.S. demand will hold up amid cold weather, offsetting worries about a slowdown in emerging economies.

Benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery was up 59 cents to US$97.78 a barrel at 0735 GMT in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 76 cents to close at US$97.19 on Monday in New York.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil used by many U.S. refineries, was up 38 cents at US$106.16 on the ICE exchange in London.

Northeastern U.S. is bracing for a second storm of the week, forcing classes to be canceled and government and business offices to close. Anywhere from a few inches to a foot or more of snow is expected to fall on East Coast states, and some places are expected to get freezing rain and sleet.

Although the slowdown in China and some emerging markets has worked to dampen oil prices, the unusually cold winter in the U.S. has helped push them back up.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline inched up 1.3 cents to US$2.617 a gallon.

— Heating oil added 1.5 cents to US$2.998 a gallon.

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