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WTI trades near 3-day high on economic signals

West Texas Intermediate crude traded near the highest price in three days amid signs that economic growth is being sustained in China and the United States, the world’s two biggest oil consumers. Brent was steady in London.

Futures were little changed in New York after rising 0.2 percent on June 6. China’s exports climbed 7 percent in May from a year earlier, according to the General Administration of Customs, while a Labor Department report showed U.S. employment exceeded the pre-recession peak for the first time.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said violence in the country’s east must end this week as peace talks with Russia began.

“The economic data we’ve been getting have been a positive factor for the oil market,” Will Yun, a commodities analyst at Hyundai Futures Co. in Seoul, said by phone Monday. “There are positive developments on both the demand and supply sides, which gives support to crude prices at the moment.”

WTI for July delivery was at $102.81 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 15 cents, at 1:02 p.m. Seoul time.

The contract gained 18 cents to $102.66 on June 6. The volume of all futures traded was 13 percent below the 100-day average. Prices have advanced 4.5 percent this year.

Brent for July settlement was 5 cents higher at $108.66 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European benchmark crude traded at a premium of $5.86 to WTI. The spread closed at $5.95 last week.

Chinese economy

China’s exports increased by more than the median 6.7 percent gain forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of economists, helping to cushion a slowdown as an unexpected drop in imports highlighted risks to growth.

“There are still concerns over China’s domestic demand,” Yun said. “Determining whether or not China is recovering is something we’ll need to wait and see.”

The Asian nation will account for about 11 percent of global oil consumption this year, compared with 21 percent for the U.S., according to estimates from the International Energy Agency in Paris.

U.S. payrolls expanded by 217,000 in May, extending a 282,000 rise in April, the Labor Department said on June 6.

That marked the fourth monthly increase in employment of more than 200,000, the first time early 2000. The jobless rate remained at 6.3 percent, the lowest in almost six years.

Ukraine talks

Poroshenko, who took the oath of office on June 7, said negotiations with Russia should be held on a daily basis.

He used his inauguration speech to present a plan to bring peace to the nation after more than six months of unrest that’s pitted the U.S. and Europe against Russia, the world’s largest energy exporter, in the worst standoff since the Cold War.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will probably maintain its production ceiling at 30 million barrels a day at a meeting in Vienna on June 11.

Ministers from Saudi Arabia, Angola and Kuwait said they expect no change, as did 22 of 23 analysts and traders in a separate Bloomberg survey. The 12-member group pumps about 40 percent of the world’s oil.

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