Crude oil futures continued to inch higher Monday morning amid signs of strong demand from China.

China's economy expanded at a steady pace in the second quarter on domestic spending and exports despite measures taken to rein in financial risks.

Gross domestic product grew 6.9 percent year-on-year, the same pace of expansion as seen in the first quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics said Monday. The annual growth was forecast to slow to 6.8 percent.

Crude oil extended recent gains despite Friday's report from Baker Hughes data showing the number of active U.S. rigs drilling for oil edged higher by two to 765 rigs this week.

WTI light sweet oil was up 8 cents at $46.55 a barrel, staying well away from June's yearly lows near $42.

Among the few economic reports on tap, the New York Federal Reserve's Empire State Manufacturing Survey for July will be released at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time today.

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