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Oil rises above $94 ahead of OPEC meeting

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The price of oil extended gains to rise above $94 a barrel Tuesday, ahead of an OPEC meeting and bolstered by encouraging manufacturing data from the world's top two economies.

Benchmark U.S. crude for January delivery was up 29 cents to $94.11 a barrel at midafternoon Kuala Lumpur time on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added $1.10 to close at $93.82 on Monday.

Investors are looking to a meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna on Wednesday for an update on production levels.

Analysts at JBC Energy in Vienna estimate that OPEC's crude output fell to 29.44 million barrels a day in November, the lowest since May 2011 and the third straight month with output below 30 million. Most of the difference was attributed to production and export snags in Libya, where political volatility and the effects of the 2011 civil war continue to affect the oil industry.

Oil prices were also buoyed by fresh data pointing to steady manufacturing growth in the U.S. and China.

U.S. manufacturing grew in November at the fastest pace in 2 1/2 years as factories ramped up production, stepped up hiring and received orders at a healthy clip. Manufacturing activity has now expanded for six straight months after hitting a rough patch in the spring, suggesting that growth was solid in the October-December quarter.

Chinese manufacturing also continued to grow slightly last month, two surveys showed, in evidence that a recovery in the world's No. 2 economy was continuing, albeit at a modest pace.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, was flat at $111.45 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline was little changed at $2.678 a gallon.

— Heating oil was steady at $3.05 a gallon.

— Natural gas fell 0.7 cent to $3.981 per 1,000 cubic feet.

 

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