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Oil gains most in 2 weeks as factory data boosts US economic outlook

The price of oil rose the most in two weeks Tuesday in the wake of strong U.S. factory data and an apparent easing in tensions over Ukraine.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery gained $1.62 to US$99.70 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was oil's biggest gain since March 3.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties, gained 55 cents to US$106.79 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Data from the Federal Reserve showed that U.S. factory output in February rose at its fastest clip in six months after disruptions from severe winter weather. That bodes well for demand for oil in the world's largest economy.

Oil prices were also underpinned by the narrow scope of U.S. and European Union sanctions against Russia for its intervention in Crimea. On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty to annex Crimea but suggested his country was not seeking to take over other parts of Ukraine.

Investors are also awaiting fresh information on U.S. stockpiles of crude and refined products.

Statistics for the week ended March 14 are expected to show a build of 2.6 million barrels in crude oil stocks and a decline of 1.6 million barrels in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex, wholesale gasoline inched up two cents to US$2.90 a U.S. gallon (3.79 lites), heating oil gained two cents to US$2.92 a gallon and natural gas fell eight cents to US$4.46 per 1,000 cubic feet.

(TSX:ECA), (TSX:IMO), (TSX:SU), (TSX:HSE), (NYSE:BP), (NYSE:COP), (NYSE:XOM), (NYSE:CVX), (TSX:CNQ), (TSX:TLM), (TSX:COS), (TSX:CVE)

The Canadian Press


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