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Associated Press
Ingrid Parham chisels away at frozen snow surrounding her car in Paterson, N.J. Soaring demand for fuel oil in the Northeast is being blamed for a surge in fuel heating prices.

Oil cracks $100 after demand up for fuel oil

The price of oil extended gains above $100 a barrel Monday as the cold weather in the United States increased demand for heating fuels and solid Chinese credit numbers eased concerns over the world’s second-biggest economy.

By midday, benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery was up 62 cents to $100.92 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday, the Nymex contract fell 5 cents to close at $100.30.

“The ongoing cold weather in the U.S. is continuing to lend support to energy prices,” analysts at Commerzbank in Frankfurt said.

They added that prices are likely to correct, possibly as much as several dollars, after the cold weather abates, as occurred at the beginning of last year.

For now, though, oil prices have been supported by favorable credit growth numbers from China, which suggested the Chinese economy is not suffering a dramatic slowdown.

Lending by Chinese banks and in the largely unregulated underground market rebounded to $430 billion in January from December, 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, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, was flat at $109.18 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

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