WASHINGTON (AP) — Oil prices are rising on fresh signs of an improving U.S. economy that could lead to stronger demand for gasoline and other energy products.

Benchmark oil rose 50 cents to $101.21 per barrel on Wednesday in New York. Brent crude fell 50 cents to $111.03 per barrel in London.

The Federal Reserve says factory production in December expanded by the most in a year, as consumers bought more vehicles and businesses spent more on machinery and computers.

Investors also are encouraged by news that the International Monetary Fund is seeking new funding resources to help struggling European countries.

Meanwhile, AAA says the national average for retail gas is $3.38 per gallon. That's about 16 cents more than a month ago and nearly 28 cents more than a year ago.