Crude up in Asia on China demand hopes

Oil was up in Asia Monday on trader expectations of a hike in Chinese crude demand after a key survey showed its manufacturing activity hitting a 14-month high in December, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in January rose 20 cents to $86.92 a barrel in the afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for February delivery advanced four cents to $108.22.

"Oil prices rose... on expectations for improved demand in China after data showed the manufacturing sector in the world number two oil consumer expanded in December at its fastest pace in more than a year," Phillip Futures said in a report.

Banking giant HSBC in its preliminary purchasing managers' index (PMI) released Friday recorded China's manufacturing activity at 50.9 in December, the highest the index has reached in 14 months.

It was the second straight month that China's manufacturing has hurdled the 50-point mark indicating an expansion after 12 consecutive months of contraction.

China's economic growth hit a more than three-year low of 7.4 percent in the three months to September, but HSBC's PMI, together with a series of data released recently, has fuelled optimism of a Chinese economic rebound.

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