Oil higher; pump prices rise to $3.61 a gallon

AP News
Posted: Jul 15, 2013 3:35 PM

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.

Benchmark crude for August delivery gained 37 cents to $106.32. Meanwhile, the average price of a gallon of gasoline rose 6 cents over the weekend and appears headed higher.

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.

The rise in gasoline futures has been even steeper. As of Monday, they'd risen 35 cents, or 13 percent, in July to $3.10 a gallon. Those gains are showing up at the pump. The average price for a gallon is now $3.61, the highest since June 17.

The increases are varying by region. The average price in Indiana and Michigan rose by 30 cents or more in the past week. Hancock and Shelby counties in Indiana had the distinction of the biggest week-over week gains, 53 cents and 50 cents, respectively, data from GasBuddy.com show.

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Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at GasBuddy, said in an email that he was seeing more increases Monday.

Brent crude rose 28 cents at $109.09 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.