Oil firms on Chinese data

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London - Global oil prices climbed on Tuesday after data showed key crude consumer China imported more record amounts last month, dealers said.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in May, gained 36 cents to $99.96 a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for May rose 30 cents to stand at $107.11 a barrel, from Monday's closing level.

“The focus today has been on inventories following news overnight that China's crude inventories rose to a new high in February following two months of record imports,” said Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen.

On Wednesday, the US government's Energy Information Administration is forecast to reveal that American crude oil reserves grew last week.

The news would signal weaker demand in the United States, which is the world's biggest crude consuming nation.

“Baring any flare up in geopolitical tensions (this) should leave the upside limited at this stage,” added Hansen.

Crude futures also rose after a key petroleum shipping channel in the United States was closed following a collision resulting in an oil spill.

Kenny Kan, an analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore, said the temporary closure of the Houston shipping route had lifted WTI prices.

The Houston Ship Channel was shut down after a weekend collision between a barge and a ship resulted in the spill of about 168,000

gallons (636,000 litres) of fuel oil into the waterway.

The closure disrupted supplies to refineries in the US Gulf Coast.

Kan said in a market commentary that “although the temporary closure of the shipping channel may not have a tangible impact on this week's crude inventories report, it has caused much volatility”.

- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this report - Sapa-AFP



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