Oil inches up as traders consider China data

NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil rose Monday as a report of weaker economic growth in China slowed but could not halt crude’s upward momentum.

U.S. benchmark crude for August delivery gained 37 cents, or 0.4 percent, to settle at $106.32 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Oil is up about 10 percent so far this month. It has been jolted higher by unexpectedly sharp drops in U.S. crude and gasoline inventories, which suggest stronger demand. The military ouster in early July of Egypt’s president has also added a premium to crude, reflecting the risk of supply disruption from political instability in a country that controls the Suez Canal.

Those factors were tempered Monday by a second straight quarter of slowing economic growth in China. The world’s No. 2 economy expanded 7.5 percent in the April-June quarter after 7.7 percent growth in the previous quarter. It was China’s weakest growth rate since 1991 and signals a decrease in its need for crude and other fuels.

Brent crude rose 11 cents, or 0.1 percent, at $108.92 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline lost 2 cents to $3.10 a gallon.

— Heating oil was flat at $3.03 a gallon.

— Natural gas rose 3 cents to $3.67 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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