Oil above $97 after first gain this week

Oil rose for the first time this week on Thursday, but gains were kept in check by plentiful supplies.

Benchmark U.S. crude for December delivery gained 25 cents to close at $97.11 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil is still down $3.70 a barrel, or 3.7 percent.

One factor weighing on the price was Wednesday’s report from the Energy Information Administration that said U.S. oil inventories rose by 5.2 million barrels last week, a possible symptom of subdued demand and overproduction. The rise in stockpiles followed a 4 million barrel increase in the previous week.

Oil did get a lift Thursday from a survey that showed China’s manufacturing rose to a seven month high in October, suggesting continued momentum for the recovery in the world’s second-biggest economy.

The preliminary version of HSBC’s purchasing managers’ index rose to 50.9 from September’s 50.2 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 indicate expansion.

In the U.S., the average price for a gallon of gasoline fell to $3.33, down 13 cents from a month ago and 30 cents cheaper than at this time last year.
Brent crude fell 81 cents to $106.99 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange in London. In Houston, the average was $3.049 a gallon, down from $3.057 Wednesday, according to AAA.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline added 4 cents to $2.59 a gallon.
— Natural gas rose 1 cent to $3.63 per 1,000 cubic feet.
— Heating oil shed 2 cents to $2.90 a gallon.