Oil price rises as US cold forecast to return

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The price of oil rose Monday, continuing its climb for a seventh straight week supported by U.S. demand for heating oil amid prolonged cold weather.

Benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery was up 28 cents to $102.48 a barrel at 0620 GMT in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 55 cents to $102.20 on Friday.

Despite losses on Friday, oil was up 2 percent over the week amid rising demand for heating oil in the U.S.

Forecasters predicted a return of more cold weather in the coming weeks after a brief warm spell.

Analysts, however, have said oil prices could reverse direction due to a tempering of global demand and ample supplies.

A slower increase in Chinese property prices has added to jitters about the strength of the world's No. 2 economy. A report on manufacturing in China last week suggested global economic growth could weaken, which would reduce demand for gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

Supplies also appeared to be robust in the U.S. despite the higher demand, with weekly crude stocks on a rising trend.

Brent crude, which is used to set prices for international varieties of crude, added 18 cents to $110.03 on the ICE exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading in New York:

— Wholesale gasoline edged up 0.8 cent to $3.011 per gallon.

— Heating oil was up 1.1 cents at $3.05 a gallon.

— Natural gas gained 13.6 cents to $5.148 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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