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Oil below $98 after pessimistic China comment
Oil hovers below $98 in Asia after a Chinese leader predicts long global recession
By The Associated Press

SINGAPORE (AP) ' Oil prices hovered below $98 a barrel Monday in Asia after a Chinese leader said a long global recession is certain.

Benchmark crude for December delivery was up 10 cents at $97.51 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.41 to settle at $97.41 in New York on Friday.

Brent crude for January delivery was up 12 cents at $107.68 a barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange in London.

Chinese state media reported Vice Premier Wang Qishan, who oversees trade and finance, said this weekend the global economic situation is "extremely serious" and his country would focus on domestic challenges.

Singapore said Monday that it expects its economy to grow as little as 1 percent next year, down from a 5 percent expansion this year.

Crude has jumped from $75 on Oct. 4 on signs the U.S. will avoid a recession this year. However, oil pulled back from a near four-month high above $103 last week as traders mulled whether a weak global economy justified further gains.

"Oil values will continue to be jostled by broad based global economic crosscurrents but with primary focus on the euro zone probably through the rest of this year and beyond," energy consultant Ritterbusch and Associates said in a report. "However, U.S. economic guidance remains positive and emerging markets still appear robust."

The International Monetary Fund in September forecast 4 percent global economic growth next year.

In other Nymex trading, heating oil rose 1.3 cents to $3.05 per gallon and gasoline futures added 1.1 cents to $2.50 per gallon. Natural gas gained 0.3 cent at $3.32 per 1,000 cubic feet.

(This version CORRECTS Corrects Wen's title to vice premier, not vice chairman, in paragraph 4)

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