01/18/2012 11:22 EST | Updated 03/19/2012 05:12 EDT

Oil price above US$101 as factory production grows, IMF seeks more aid in Europe

WASHINGTON - Oil prices are rising on fresh signs of an improving U.S. economy that could lead to stronger demand for gasoline and other energy products.

Benchmark oil rose 24 cents to $100.95 per barrel on Wednesday in New York.

Brent crude fell 50 cents to $111.03 per barrel in London.

The U.S. Federal Reserve says factory production in December expanded by the most in a year, as consumers bought more vehicles and businesses spent more on machinery and computers.

Investors also are encouraged by news that the International Monetary Fund is seeking new funding resources to help struggling European countries.