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Oil hovers above $94 in Asia amid signs of US economy improving
SINGAPORE (AP) ' Oil prices hovered below $94 a barrel Friday in Asia amid signs the U.S. economy may be improving.
Benchmark crude for December delivery was up 5 cents at $94.12 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.56 to settle at $94.07 in New York on Thursday.
Brent crude was down 33 cents at $110.50 a barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange in London.
Crude has jumped about 25 percent from $75 on Oct. 4 amid growing investor optimism that the U.S. economy will avoid a recession.
On Thursday, the Labor Department reported that the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits dipped slightly last week to the lowest level in five weeks. And the Commerce Department said factory orders had the biggest jump in six months in September.
"The general global economic outlook inched away from the edge of collapse," energy trader and consultant The Schork Group said in a report.
Investors will be closely watching the latest unemployment figures for October due to be released later Friday.
Doubts that a plan announced by European leaders last week will contain Greece's debt crisis weighed on oil prices.
After meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy earlier this week, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou backed off earlier pledges to call a referendum on his country's bailout package. But traders are still worried the plan will not be fully implemented or enough to stanch Europe rising debt levels.
"Markets are skeptical of the latest final agreement to stave off European contagion," Schork said.
In other Nymex trading, heating oil rose 0.7 cent to $3.05 per gallon and gasoline futures slid 1 cent at $2.65 per gallon. Natural gas added 1.9 cents at $3.80 per 1,000 cubic feet.