BANGKOK — Oil prices rose to near US$82 a barrel Monday in Asia as regional stock markets jumped on news that growth in Chinese manufacturing picked up pace in October. Benchmark crude for December delivery was up 41 cents at US$81.84 a barrel at late afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 75 cents to settle at US$81.43 on Friday. The pickup in Chinese manufacturing suggests that China’s economic recovery remains on track, bolstering expectations that its demand for crude will offset weakness in advanced economies.
Crude has been stuck in a range of about US$80 to US$83 a barrel for the past week, as traders and investors wait for the Federal Reserve to say what it will do to stimulate the U.S. economy. Expectations the Fed will Wednesday announce a Treasury bond buying program to pump money into the ailing economy were reinforced by lackluster third quarter U.S. growth figures released last week. In other energy trading on the Nymex, heating oil was up 1 cent to US$2.25 a gallon. Gasoline dropped 2 cents to US$2.06 a gallon and natural gas added 9 cents to US$4.12 per 1,000 cubic feet. Brent crude was up 10 cents at US$83.25 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange in London.