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Oil prices edge up on improvement in US, China manufacturing strength

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BEIJING, China - Oil prices edged up Wednesday on stronger manufacturing activity in the United States and China, the two biggest oil consumers.

Benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery gained 14 cents to $105.48 per barrel in New York, reversing four days of declines. The contract closed at a 10-month high of $107.26 on June 20.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, gained 9 cents to $112.38 per barrel in London.

Manufacturing activity in China, the world's biggest oil importer, grew in June, according to separate surveys by HSBC Corp. and a Chinese industry group.

In the United States, manufacturing grew for a 13th successive month, though at a slower pace than in May.

Oil prices have risen in recent weeks on concerns that violence in Iraq, OPEC's second-largest exporter, would cut supplies. They stabilized late last week as the stunning initial advance by insurgents lost momentum.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

—Wholesale gasoline rose a fraction of a penny to $3.04 per gallon.

—Natural gas gained 0.2 cents to $4.447 per 1,000 cubic feet.

—Heating oil held steady at $2.978 a gallon.

(TSX:ECA, TSX:IMO, TSX:SU, TSX:HSE, NYSE:BP, NYSE:COP, NYSE:XOM, NYSE:CVX, TSX:CNQ, TSX:TLM, TSX:COS.UN, TSX:CVE)

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