Oil marches past $108 on favorable economic data

By PAMELA SAMPSON,AP Business Writer Updated at 2013-08-02 06:07:42 +0000

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BANGKOK (AP) — Oil prices breezed past $108 per barrel Friday, with traders emboldened by record highs on Wall Street and data showing an upswing in U.S. factory output.

Benchmark crude for September delivery rose 67 cents to $108.56 per barrel at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $2.86 a barrel Thursday, or 2.7 percent, to close at $107.89 a barrel on the Nymex on Thursday.

Oil prices are being fueled by the same optimism that pushed Wall Street to new highs Thursday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index and the Dow Jones industrial average both set record highs, and the S&P 500 crossed the 1,700 mark for the first time.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, said its index of U.S. manufacturing jumped to 55.4 in July, up from 50.9 in June and well above an expected reading of 51.8. A number above 50 indicates growth.

On Friday, hiring figures for July will be released, then examined for hints about future energy demand in the world's No. 1 economy.

In a commentary, Michael Hewson of CMC Markets said that report "could well add the final flourish to a record week, and a perfect start to August."

Brent crude, traded on the ICE Futures exchange in London, rose 50 cents to $110.04 per barrel.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

— Heating oil was up 0.9 cents to $3.1055 a gallon.

— Natural gas fell 3 cents to $3.362 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Wholesale gasoline rose 0.2 cents to $3.0305 a gallon.

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