Oil rises above $70 in Asia as US dollar weakens

SINGAPORE: Oil prices rose above $70 a barrel Thursday in Asia amid a weakening U.S. dollar and mixed crude inventory data.

Benchmark crude for November delivery was up 62 cents at $70.19 by midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost $1.31 to settle at $69.57 on Wednesday.

A slide in the U.S. dollar has helped bolster oil prices, which are traded in the American currency. The euro rose to $1.4758 on Thursday from $1.4687 the previous day, and the dollar slipped to 88.30 yen from 88.60.

Investors were also mulling mixed signals in Wednesday's crude supply numbers from the Energy Information Administration. Gasoline inventories grew by 2.9 million barrels last week and distillate fuel supplies grew by 700,000 barrels, both bigger increases than analysts expected.

But crude supplies dropped by 1 million barrels, while analysts had expected a gain of 1.9 million barrels.

Barclays Capital expects global crude consumption to fall 1.55 million barrels a day this year, less than it previously forecast, as the U.S. and Japan begin to show signs of higher demand. However, next year's demand growth could be muted.

"We remain somewhat downbeat on the scale of oil demand growth in 2010," Barclays said in a report.

In other Nymex trading, heating oil rose 2.01 cents to $1.80 a gallon. Gasoline for November delivery gained 1.24 cents to $1.73 a gallon. Natural gas for November delivery jumped 2.7 cents to $4.93 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent crude rose 69 cents to $67.89 on the ICE Futures exchange.