Oil prices climb close to 80 dollars

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World oil prices climbed on Monday, approaching 80 dollars per barrel, as traders set aside downbeat Chinese economic data to focus on rising stock markets, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in September, added 93 cents to 79.88 dollars a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for September jumped 1.05 dollars to 79.23 in early afternoon London deals.

"Crude is knocking on the door of 80 dollars and should remain well supported if the strength in equity markets continues," said analyst Simon Denham at trading firm Capital Spreads.

"A break above here will really pave the way for a push upwards and a test of 82 dollars."

European stock markets surged on Monday, lifted by the financial sector after British banking titan HSBC announced soaring half-year profits.

HSBC said its net profits more than doubled to 6.76 billion dollars (5.17 billion euros) in the first half of 2010, as bad debt charges were slashed.

Oil traders meanwhile shrugged off recent downbeat economic news in the United States and China, which are respectively the world's first and second biggest energy consuming nations.

US gross domestic product (GDP) growth fell back sharply to 2.4 percent in the second quarter, official data showed on Friday, slamming the brakes on an already tepid rebound and painting a bleak picture of the road ahead.

The official China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing showed on Sunday that manufacturing activity slowed in July, but remained in positive territory with a reading of 51.2 -- for an overall decline it would have to be below 50.

And on Monday, an HSBC China Manufacturing PMI, or purchasing managers' index, suggested a contraction in July, with a reading of 49.4.

© 2010 AFP

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