By The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) - The price of oil briefly rose above $98 a barrel Monday on concerns about protests in Egypt and their possible effect on Middle East oil supplies.
Also, a report showing a pickup in U.S. manufacturing offset data showing a slump in China's manufacturing sector.
By midday in New York, benchmark crude for August delivery was up 88 cents to $97.44 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil rose as high as $98.28 in the morning.
Protests in Egypt aimed at ousting Mohammed Morsi, the country's first democratically elected president, continued Monday. Officials said at least 16 people have been killed across the country in violence connected to the rallies against the Islamist leader and the Muslim Brotherhood group which propelled Morsi to power.
Traders are concerned that the protests in Egypt and the civil war in Syria could affect the production and transport of oil supplies in the Middle East and North Africa.
Reports on manufacturing in the world's two biggest economies gave opposite impressions.
U.S. manufacturing activity grew in June behind a pickup in new orders and stronger production. The increase suggests factories could rebound in the second half of the year and help the economy grow.
Meanwhile China's manufacturing sector weakened again in June amid a credit crunch and slower U.S. and European orders, two surveys showed. The findings added to signs that growth in the world's second-largest economy is decelerating.
In London, Brent crude was up 87 cents at $103.03 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.
U.S. drivers continue to pay less to fill up. The nationwide average for a gallon of gasoline fell below $3.50 a gallon for the first time since early February. At $3.49 a gallon, gas is about 12 cents cheaper on average than a year ago, although it still costs about 16 cents a gallon more than at this time last year.
In other energy futures trading on Nymex:
- Natural gas lost 1 cent to $3.55 per 1,000 cubic feet.
- Heating oil gained 1 cent to $2.87 per gallon.
- Wholesale gasoline added 2 cents to $2.74 per gallon.__
Pablo Gorondi in Budapest contributed to this report.
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