US cold, steady China help lift oil prices

The Associated Press

The price of oil stayed above $100 a barrel Tuesday on expectations cold weather in the U.S. and steady Chinese growth will underpin demand.

Benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery was up 35 cents to $100.65 a barrel at 0750 GMT in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Due to the President's Day holiday, the contract's last physical settlement was Friday, when it fell 5 cents to close at $100.30.

Severe cold weather in the U.S. has been boosting energy prices. The U.S. East Coast is expected to get more snow, and the cold is extending to other states.

Optimism that China's economy is still healthy after credit growth increased in January also helped lift energy prices.

Talks begin Tuesday among Iran and six world powers on finalizing a deal to control Iran's nuclear program. The outcome could have an effect on oil prices as Iran is a major oil producer and reduction of sanctions would allow the country to export more of its crude.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, edged down 13 cents to $109.05.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline rose 0.8 cent to $2.98 a gallon.

— Heating oil added 0.5 cent to $3.021 a gallon.

— Natural gas gained 31 cents to $5.524 per 1,000 cubic feet.