Oil jumps on China exports, Japan economic growth

Oil prices rose Monday as positive news on exports from China and economic growth in Japan followed last week’s solid jobs report in the U.S.

Benchmark U.S. oil for July delivery gained $1.75 to close at $104.41 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That’s the highest closing price since March 3.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, rose $1.29 to $109.15 a barrel in London.

China reported Sunday that exports rose 7 percent in dollar terms in May, up from a 0.9 percent increase in April that followed a slump in February and March. The surge in exports reinforced confidence that the U.S. and European recoveries will drive stronger demand for commodities, including oil.

Japan raised its estimate for economic growth in the January-March quarter to 6.7 percent from 5.9 percent, as investment by companies was stronger than first thought.

On Friday, U.S. employment figures also suggested stronger demand for oil. Employers added 217,000 jobs during May, the fourth straight month of decent growth.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline gained 5 cents to $2.98 a gallon.

— Natural gas fell 7 cents to $4.65 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil rose 2 cents to $2.89 a gallon.

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