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Expectations of improving demand raises oil prices

Oil prices rose as encouraging signs about the economy in the United States and China tempered concerns about Greece’s debt crisis.

Benchmark oil rose $1.09 to finish at $92.57 per barrel Monday in New York. Brent crude increased $1.67 to $108.81 per barrel in London.

It was a rare bright day for oil in May, which is down almost 12 percent this month on concerns about slowing global economic conditions.

Two developments raised expectations that oil demand may improve in the United States and China, the world’s two biggest economies.

A survey by the National Association of Business Economists released Monday showed economists are slightly more optimistic about a recovery in the job and housing markets. But they also expect consumer spending, business investment and gross domestic product to remain below historic norms.

Retail gasoline prices continue to fall ahead of Memorial Day weekend. The national average for regular gasoline dropped about 2 cents over the weekend to $3.689 per gallon, according to AAA, Wright Express and the Oil Price Information Service. That’s about 18 cents less than it was a month ago and a year ago.

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