Oil heads for longest run of weekly gains in 14 months on China

Oil headed for the longest weekly winning streak in 14 months in New York after growth accelerated in China, the world’s second-biggest crude-consuming country.

Prices fluctuated as China’s gross domestic product rose 7.9% in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, compared with 7.4% in the previous period, the National Bureau of Statistics said today. The International Energy Agency raised forecasts for global oil demand this year. The euro fell versus the dollar, reducing crude’s investment appeal.

“The data out of China have been good and people are continuing to be more bullish about the economy,” said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research in Winchester, Massachusetts. “The euro is quite weak and that’s pressuring the market.”

West Texas Intermediate crude for February delivery slid 1 cent to $95.48 a barrel at 1:25 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices have increased 2.1% since Jan. 11, heading for a sixth weekly advance, the longest streak since November 2011.

Brent for March settlement gained 64 cents, or 0.6%, to $111.74 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European benchmark contract was at a premium of $15.81 to WTI futures for the same month. The gap was $15.16 yesterday, the narrowest closing level since July 24.

WTI trading volume was 2.8% below the 100-day average. Brent volume was 7.4% above the average.

Chinese Growth

China’s fourth-quarter growth beat the 7.8% median estimate in a Bloomberg survey. The economy expanded 7.8% for the full year, the least in 13 years, according to statistics bureau data, compared with the 7.7% median estimate in the survey.

Growth may pick up to 8.1% this year, according to analysts polled by Bloomberg in December.

Oil advanced to $95.49 yesterday, the highest close since Sept. 17, after U.S. builders broke ground on more houses than forecast and jobless claims dropped to a five-year low.

“We had already priced in a lot of the economic data,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC, a New York-based hedge fund that focuses on energy. “We’re at a difficult technical level, which will be tough to breach.”

The IEA boosted its 2013 global demand forecast by 240,000 barrels a day today because of stronger growth expectations for China. World consumption will average a record 90.8 million.

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