Crude oil prices advanced slightly and hovered above $92 a barrel in Asia Thursday as better-than-expected economic reports from the U.S. and China eased concerns over the global growth slowdown.
Light sweet crude for the November delivery advanced 0.08 percent or 7cents to $92.19 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange during the Asian trading hours. Brent crude oil futures for the December delivery gained 0.34 percent or 38 cents to $113.60 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange in London.
A slew of economic reports from China Thursday pointed to stabilization and eased concerns over growth slowdown in the world's second largest oil consumer. The data released by the National Bureau of Statistics showed that the world’s second largest economy grew as expected in the third quarter. China's gross domestic product growth slowed to the lowest rate in three years to 7.4 percent in the third quarter compared to the same period last year and in line with analysts’ estimates.
"This is within expectations, the economy is showing signs of stabilizing, that is good news. We think that with rebounding property markets, stabilizing export orders, resuming consumption, we probably have seen the bottom of the economy," Dong Tai, economist at Credit Suisse in Hong Kong, was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Among other reports, China’s industrial production rose in September compared to that in the previous month, indicating an upswing in the manufacturing output. Industrial production rose to 9.2 percent in September, up from 8.9 percent in August and also more than the analysts’ expectation of 9 percent while retail sales rose 14.1 percent in September on an annual basis against analysts’ estimate of 13.2 percent.
Adding to the sentiment, the U.S. housing data was much stronger than expected overnight. The U.S. Census Bureau’s housing starts data Wednesday showed an upswing in the residential market, with housing starts in September surging 15 percent to reach their highest level since July 2008. Building permits also rose in September to 894,000, up from 801,000 in August.
However, the gains were limited due to a bearish inventory report Wednesday. The U.S. Energy Department’s weekly petroleum inventory report showed that domestic stocks of crude oil rose by 2.86 million barrels in the week to Oct. 12, higher than a rise of 1.7 million barrels forecast by a Reuters poll with analysts.
On Wednesday, light sweet crude for the November delivery gained 3 cents and settled at $92.12 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange while Brent crude for the December delivery slipped 4 cents and settled at $113.18 a barrel.