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Price of oil gains as US factory report boosts economic outlook

The price of oil edged up Tuesday as strong U.S. factory output boosted the outlook for the world's biggest economy.

Benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery was up 15 cents to US$98.23 a barrel at 0915 GMT in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 81 cents to US$98.08 on Monday. Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, gained 46 cents to US$106.70 on the ICE exchange in London.

Data from the Federal Reserve showed that U.S. factory output in February rose at its fastest clip in six months after disruptions from severe winter weather.

Oil prices were also underpinned by the narrow scope of U.S and European Union sanctions against Russia for its intervention in Crimea.

The initial penalties, freezing the assets of Russian and Ukrainian officials linked to the unrest in Crimea or who support the region's vote to secede from Ukraine, were accompanied by the warnings from President Barack Obama that more will follow if Russia does not stop interfering in Ukraine.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline inched up 0.8 cent to US$2.881 a gallon.

— Heating oil gained 1.2 cents to US$2.891 a gallon.

— Natural gas fell 3.1 cents to US$4.505 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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