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Oil near $103 amid falling dollar, rising stocks

SINGAPORE (AP) — Oil prices inched higher to near $103 a barrel Wednesday in Asia as traders mulled whether a weakening dollar could help push crude back to 2 1/2-year highs.

Benchmark oil for July delivery was up 23 cents to $102.93 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added $2.11 to settle at $102.70 on Tuesday.

In London, Brent crude for July delivery was up 6 cents to $116.79 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

Crude has risen from $96 last week as a falling dollar made commodities cheaper for investors with other currencies. The euro rose to $1.4421 on Wednesday from $1.4397 late Tuesday while the dollar fell to 81.18 yen from 81.51.

“The dollar now seems to be on course to test the lows seen at the end of April,” Cameron Hanover said in a report. “If that’s the case, we could see stocks and oil prices also advance to test their late April highs.”

Oil reached near $115 a barrel on May 2, the highest since September 2008.

A U.S. stock market rally also helped boost crude. Traders often look to equity markets as a barometer of overall investor sentiment. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 1 percent Tuesday and most Asian stock indexes were up slightly Wednesday.

In other Nymex trading in June contracts, heating oil was steady at $3.05 a gallon and gasoline rose slightly to $3.03 a gallon. Natural gas futures dropped slightly to $4.66 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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