Oil price above $100 on China credit growth

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The price of oil extended gains above $100 a barrel Monday as a rebound in Chinese credit growth suggested steady demand in one of the world's largest petroleum consumers.

Benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery was up 47 cents to $100.77 a barrel at 0630 GMT in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 5 cents to close at $100.30 a barrel Friday.

Favorable credit growth numbers from China suggested its economy is avoiding a sharp slowdown, which would keep demand for energy steady.

Lending by Chinese banks and in the largely unregulated underground market rebounded to 2.6 trillion yuan ($430 billion) in January from December's 1.2 billion yuan, according to the central bank. Lending usually surges at the start of a new year but January's rise exceeded forecasts and might help to ease worries about cooling retail sales, manufacturing and other activity.

Brent crude, which is used to set prices for international varieties of crude, was down 1 cent to $109.07 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading in New York:

— Wholesale gasoline rose 2.2 cents to $2.970 a gallon.

— Heating oil added 2.9 cents to $3.019 a gallon.

— Natural gas gained 16.6 cents to $5.389 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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