Oil price rises toward $105 as supplies drop

BANGKOK (AP) — A drop in oil supplies and positive Chinese trade figures helped boost the price of oil on Thursday.

Benchmark crude for September delivery was up 10 cents to $104.47 per barrel at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dropped 93 cents to close at $104.37 a barrel on the Nymex on Wednesday.

China’s exports and imports both increased last month, beating expectations and representing a strong recovery from June’s slump. That suggested growth in the world’s No. 2 economy might eventually pick up following months of sluggishness.

Separately, U.S. oil inventories fell by nearly 3.7 million barrels to 366.3 million barrels for the week ending Aug. 2, according to the American Petroleum Institute. Analysts were expecting a drop of 2 million barrels, according to Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill.

On Wednesday, the U.S. government reported a smaller decline. The Energy Information Agency said crude supplies fell 1.3 million barrels last week.

Brent crude, traded on the ICE Futures exchange in London, fell 8 cents to $107.36 a barrel.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Heating oil fell 0.1 cent to $2.964 a gallon.

— Natural gas fell 1.2 cents to $3.235 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Wholesale gasoline rose 0.2 cents to $2.873 a gallon.

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