| Updated at: 1406 PST, Wednesday, October 13, 2010|
SINGAPORE: Oil rose past $82 on Wednesday after China's imports jumped last month, while a weaker dollar and expectations of economic stimulus by top consumer the United States burnished the appeal of commodities for investors.
U.S. crude for November CLc1 rose 40 cents to $82.07 by 0350 GMT, while ICE Brent LCOc1 gained 30 cents to $83.80.
China's September crude oil imports rose 35 percent from a year earlier to a record 5.67 million barrels per day, customs data showed on Wednesday, indicating demand from the world's second-largest consumer is surging. Machinery orders in Japan, the third-biggest user, posted a surprise jump in August.
Wednesday's Asian data raised hopes the market would re-balance as OPEC maintains production levels at a meeting this week. Forecasts show U.S. crude inventories rose last week, while stockpiles of oil products fell.
"Look at the developing economies, they are just unstoppable," said Tony Nunan, a risk manager with Tokyo-based Mitsubishi Corp.
"The story out of China indicates strong growth and that means rising oil demand."
Automakers in China shipped 19.3 percent more passenger cars to dealers in September from a year ago, the official China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) said on Wednesday.
The U.S. Federal Reserve on Tuesday released minutes from its September meeting, which showed Fed officials believed the struggling recovery might soon need further help, and discussed how that might be done.
"Markets are focusing on the bigger picture of expectations for quantitative easing, and looking at commodities as a hedge against a weaker dollar."
The greenback fell about 0.3 percent against a basket of currencies on Wednesday as markets eye the Fed's next meeting on Nov. 2-3 for confirmation stimulus will come before the end of the year.
Japanese core machinery orders unexpectedly jumped in August, climbing for a third straight month, despite worries about the impact on corporate capital spending from the yen's strength. Japan, the world's third-largest oil consumer, last week cut interest rates to prop up its economy.
Oil ministers arriving in Vienna for OPEC's meeting on Thursday, the first in seven months, signalled the producer group would keep output targets steady. Saudi Arabia's Ali al-Naimi this week said the oil market was "well balanced".
U.S. crude inventories probably rose for a second week in a row last week, adding 1.2 million barrels, a survey showed, while stockpiles of distillates including heating oil and diesel may have declined for a third straight week, shedding 1.3 million barrels in the week to Oct. 8.
Gasoline supplies were also forecast to have slid for a third week, down by 1 million barrels.
Industry group the American Petroleum Institute (API) will issue its weekly inventory report on Wednesday at 2030 GMT, followed by government statistics on stockpiles and demand from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Thursday at 1500 GMT. Both reports come a day later than usual because of Monday's Columbus Day holiday.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei average opened up 0.91 percent on Wednesday, after U.S. stocks rebounded and the dollar eased a day earlier on news that policymakers at the last meeting of the Federal Reserve suggested they were closer to increasing money supply to revive a struggling U.S. economy.
The Obama administration on Tuesday lifted its ban on deepwater drilling seven weeks ahead of schedule, saying new rules cut the risk of a repeat of the BP (BP.L: Quote) oil spill, the worst ever to hit the United States.