March crude oil traded higher during the overnight and early morning hours, supported Chinese GDP data that showed better than expected growth. The market also drafted support from a positive German Zew sentiment reading and a favorable bill auction in Spain. Outside markets were positive, with solid gains in global equity markets and weakness in the US dollar. The favorable GDP reading in China was seen as an indication that China is avoiding a hard economic landing and would likely continue to support higher global oil demand. The latest implied oil demand estimates out of China were slightly higher than IEA forecasts and were up by nearly 7.0% in 2011. Meanwhile, some traders indicated that geopolitical risks in the crude oil market could be subsiding, with Nigeria calling off union strikes for a third day on Monday. Recent comments out of Saudi Arabia raised doubts over Iran's threat to close the Straits of Hormuz and also indicated that they could quickly boost output if needed. The Commitments of Traders Futures and Options report as of January 10th showed non-commercial traders were net long 233,921 contracts, an increase of 19,546. Non-commercial and nonreportable traders combined held a net long position of 269,108 contracts, for an increase of 28,238 in their net long positioning.