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Oil price rises above US$100 a barrel on report about China credit growth

AP--The price of oil extended gains above US$100 a barrel Monday as a rebound in Chinese credit growth suggested steady demand in one of the world's largest petroleum consumers.

Benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery was up 47 cents to US$100.77 a barrel at 0630 GMT in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 5 cents to close at US$100.30 a barrel Friday.

Favorable credit growth numbers from China suggested its economy is avoiding a sharp slowdown, which would keep demand for energy steady.

Lending by Chinese banks and in the largely unregulated underground market rebounded to 2.6 trillion yuan (US$430 billion) in January from December's 1.2 billion yuan, according to the central bank.

Brent crude, which is used to set prices for international varieties of crude, was down 1 cent to US$109.07 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading in New York:

— Wholesale gasoline rose 2.2 cents to US$2.970 a gallon.

— Heating oil added 2.9 cents to US$3.019 a gallon.

— Natural gas gained 16.6 cents to US$5.389 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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