Last updated: February 16. 2013 10:22PM - 124 Views

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(AP) Oil prices rose Thursday ahead of a meeting of European central bankers who are expected to announce a plan to help financially strapped countries.

The European Central Bank is expected to announce a bond-buying program to reduce high borrowing costs in Spain and Italy. That could lower their chances of needing an emergency bailout, ease concerns about their economies and translate into growth and more demand for energy.

Benchmark crude for October delivery was up 50 cents to $95.86 a barrel at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 6 cents to end at $95.36 per barrel in New York on Wednesday. Brent crude was 52 cents higher at $113.61.

Manufacturing weakness in China and the U.S. has sparked fears of a global economic slowdown. But such concerns are being countered by pledges of action by central banks and governments to promote global economic growth.

Expectations for ECB action have been high since the bank's president, Mario Draghi, said in July that the bank will do whatever it takes to save the euro currency.

Carl Larry, president of Oil Outlooks and Opinions, said he believes crude was at the right price.

"WTI (West Texas Intermediate crude) has not just struggled to get over $100 it has struggled to get back under $90 ... perhaps WTI is right where it should be at $95."

In other energy futures trading, heating oil rose 1.4 cents to $3.132 per gallon. Wholesale gasoline rose 0.8 cents to $2.959 per gallon. Natural gas rose 0.3 cents to $2.798 per 1,000 cubic feet.


Follow Pamela Sampson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/pamelasampson

Associated Press
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