10/18/2013 10:05 EDT | Updated 12/18/2013 05:12 EST

Crude US$101 a barrel as rising Chinese growth boosts views on Asian demand

The price of oil rebounded to above US$101 a barrel Friday, boosted by a bounce in China's economic growth and as traders awaited the release next week 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 US$101.35 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

On Thursday, the contract dropped $1.62 to close at US$100.67 as investors assessed the economic impact of the 16-day government shutdown that ended after an 11th-hour budget deal late Wednesday.

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 per cent in the third quarter of the year, improving on the two-decade low figure of 7.5 per cent 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 U.S. Energy Department postponed this week by the government 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 Monday.

Brent crude, the international benchmark, was up 93 cents at US$110.04 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex, wholesale gasoline rose 2.8 cents to US$2.6624 a U.S. gallon (3.79 litres), heating oil added 3.33 cents to US$3.0219 a gallon and natural gas dropped 5.4 cents to US$3.703 per 1,000 cubic feet.