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Oil prices rise on investor confidence

SINGAPORE — Oil prices rose above $75 a barrel today in Asia as rallying stock markets and a stronger euro bolstered investor confidence.

Benchmark crude for July delivery was up $1.33 to $75.11 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dropped $1.70 to settle at $73.78 on Friday.

Major Asian and European stock markets gained today, led by a 1.8 percent jump in Japan, as traders bet the region’s strong economic growth will boost company profits. Crude investors often look to equities as a barometer of overall investor sentiment.

A stronger euro, which makes crude less expensive to investors with the European currency, also helped bolster oil prices. The euro gained to $1.2170 today from $1.2125 on Friday.

Investors will be eyeing reports on U.S. housing starts, industrial production and consumer prices this week for clues about the strength of the global economy.

Oil prices rose 3.2 percent last week despite weak U.S. jobs and retail sales figures, a sign that suggests crude may continue to climb this week.

“Last week the bulls had the wind knocked out of them with round after round of disappointing macro-economic figures,” energy consultancy the Schork Group said in a report. “However, despite all this bad news we still saw good action.”

In other Nymex trading in July contracts, heating oil rose 3.17 cents to $2.0370 a gallon and gasoline gained 3.03 cents to $2.080 a gallon. Natural gas jumped 10 cents to $4.881 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Brent crude was up $1.22 to $75.57 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange.

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