Oil Rises to Near $92 a Barrel in Asia

Oil prices rose to near $92 a barrel Wednesday in Asia, underpinned by a rise in regional stock markets and increases to demand forecasts for this year.

Benchmark crude for February delivery was up 34 cents at $91.72 a barrel at late afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract, which expires this week, fell 16 cents to settle at $91.38 on Tuesday.

Regional stock markets, which often provide a cue for the oil market, were higher after Apple Inc. and IBM Corp. reported strong quarterly earnings.

The euro and yen, meanwhile, gained against the dollar, making crude less expensive for buyers holding those currencies.

The previous day the dollar fell to a one-month low against the euro as investors believe European officials will soon beef up the region's plans for countering its debt crisis.

Also underpinning oil were higher demand forecasts released over the past two days from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and the International Energy Agency.

The Paris-based IEA predicts oil demand this year will rise to 89.1 million barrels a day, up from 87.7 million barrels a day in 2010. Last month the IEA forecast 2011 oil demand would hit 88.8 million barrels a day.

In other Nymex trading in February contracts, heating oil rose 0.7 cent to $2.65 a gallon and gasoline was up 0.5 cent at $2.485 a gallon. Natural gas added 2.5 cents to $4.45 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent crude was up 27 cents at $98.07 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange.

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