Forex Pros  – Crude oil futures were up for a second day on Wednesday, climbing to a three-day high as upbeat Chinese economic data eased fears over a slowdown in Chinese oil demand, while a weaker U.S. dollar also lent support.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for delivery in August traded at USD97.62 a barrel during European morning trade, gaining 0.75%.        

It earlier rose as much as 1.1% to trade at USD97.96 a barrel, the highest price since July 8.

China’s National Bureau of Statistics said earlier that the country’s gross domestic product expanded by 9.5% in the second quarter, broadly in line with market expectations.

A separate report showed that industrial production rose by 15.1% in June, the most since May 2010, outstripping expectations for a 13.7% gain.

The upbeat data eased concerns over an abrupt slowdown in the rate of growth in the world’s second largest oil consumer and boosted future oil demand expectations.

Weakness in the dollar had also contributed to oil’s strength. The dollar index, which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of six other major currencies, was down 0.45% to trade at 76.08.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Energy Department was to release its closely-watched crude oil inventories report for the week ended July 8 later in the day.

The data was expected to show that U.S. crude oil stockpiles declined by 2.0 million barrels, while gasoline supplies were forecast to rise by 0.5 million barrels. 

Data released by the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday showed that U.S. crude supplies rose by 2.3 million barrels last week, while gasoline stocks unexpectedly fell by 1.6 million barrels.

Energy traders have been closely eyeing U.S. gasoline stockpiles as the nation’s driving season entered its peak gasoline demand period.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange, Brent oil futures for September delivery advanced 0.75% to trade at USD117.39 a barrel, up USD19.77 on its U.S. counterpart.