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Oil stays above $94 after U.S. supply report

BANGKOK (AP) — The price of oil stuck to a narrow range Thursday amid ample supplies as traders awaited the latest reading on growth in the Chinese economy.

Benchmark oil for February delivery was up 7 cents to $94.31 per barrel at late afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 96 cents to close at $94.24 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The American Petroleum Institute reported crude inventories rose by 46,000 barrels in the week that ended Jan. 11.

Supplies of oil and gasoline are above average for this time of year, with crude inventories nearly 9 percent higher than a year ago and gasoline levels more than 3 percent higher. U.S. production of crude, at more than 7 million barrels a day, is the highest in 20 years.

Traders are waiting for China's growth data Friday to help assess the strength of the global economy. China will release fourth-quarter growth data for 2012 as well as overall GDP figures for the year.

Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, was up 21 cents to $109.89 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline rose 0.8 cent to $2.747 a gallon.

— Natural gas lost 3 cents to $3.405 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil rose 1 cent to $3.00 a gallon.

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