Oil prices top 75 dollars on Chinese data, IEA report

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World oil prices topped 75 dollars on Thursday, boosted by positive Chinese trade data and an upbeat energy demand outlook from the International Energy Agency, dealers said.

New York's main futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery in July, rose 69 cents to 75.07 dollars a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for July added 38 cents to 74.65 dollars.

"It is certain that the strong Chinese figures, the weakening US dollar and (US Federal Reserve chairman Ben) Bernanke's comments yesterday regarding a bright tone for the US economy will continue to dominate the markets," said Sucden analyst Myrto Sokou.

"These (factors) are expected to boost investors' confidence and drive crude oil prices higher."

China said Thursday its trade surplus soared in May on strong foreign demand.

Chinese exports jumped 48.5 percent from a year ago, suggesting the eurozone debt crisis had not yet hurt demand, helping to could ease concerns of a slowdown in the world's third-largest economy.

Global stock markets meanwhile rose further on Thursday after Fed chief Bernanke said the US economic recovery was on track and in the wake of positive Japanese economic growth data, dealers said.

The IEA said in its latest monthly report that global oil demand was firming and that Chinese demand would be crucial.

The energy watchdog said that global oil demand was rising on surprisingly resilient growth in advanced countries but warned that uncertainties abound and China was pivotal.

Two key factors which could upset estimates for the price of oil are strains over sovereign debt in advanced countries and the pace of growth in China where a "much-dreaded" slowdown has yet to materialise, the IEA said.

In addition, the effects of the BP oil-spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico might curb exploration and production slightly in the medium term, the IEA said.

The IEA revised up its estimate of global demand by 60,000 barrels per day to 86.4 million barrels per day this year, saying initial data on economic activity in advanced countries was stronger than expected.

Oil markets were also boosted after a weekly report from the US Department of Energy showed a 500,000 barrels drop in crude inventories after touching record highs in recent weeks.

© 2010 AFP

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