The price of oil rebounded to above $101 a barrel Friday, boosted by a bounce in China's economic growth and as traders awaited the release of official figures on U.S. stockpiles of crude and gasoline.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark crude for November delivery was up 68 cents at $101.35 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
On Thursday, the contract dropped $1.62 to close at $100.67 as investors assessed the economic impact of the 16-day government shutdown that ended after an eleventh hour budget deal late the day before.
The main support for oil prices on Friday came from figures released by the Chinese government showing that the world's second-largest economy grew by an annual 7.8 percent in the third quarter of the year, improving on the two-decade low figure of 7.5 percent posted in the second quarter.
While analysts at Sucden Financial saw the Chinese data "verifying hopes about a recovery in the oil demand from Asia," others warned that the uptick may only be temporary as it was due mainly to additional spending by the government.
With the regular supply report from the Energy Department postponed this week by the shutdown, traders took cues from the industry-funded American Petroleum Institute instead. The API said that U.S. stocks of crude oil rose by 5.9 million barrels last week, about twice the build expected by analysts and suggesting demand might have been reduced by the shutdown.
The Energy Information Administration figures, which are considered more reliable, will be released on Monday.
Brent crude, the international benchmark, was up 93 cents at $110.04 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on Nymex:
— Wholesale gasoline rose 2.8 cent to $2.6624 a gallon.
— Natural gas dropped 5.4 cents to $3.703 per 1,000 cubic feet.
— Heating oil added 3.33 cents to $3.0219 a gallon.
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