Oil Gains


Crude oil rose in New York after a government report showed that the U.S. economy contracted less than forecast in the fourth quarter, signaling energy demand may strengthen.

Oil gained as much as 4.8 percent, and gasoline reached an 11-week high after the Commerce Department said gross domestic product shrank at a 3.8 percent annual pace, less than the 5.5 percent forecast. The International Energy Agency and OPEC have both trimmed global demand forecasts, citing economic factors.

Crude oil for March delivery rose 24 cents, or 0.6 percent, to settle at $41.68 a barrel at 2:46 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices fell 6.5 percent in January, stretching crude’s decline to seven consecutive months, the longest on a monthly basis since Nymex trading began in 1983, according to exchange data.

Oil is down 72 percent from a July 11 record of $147.27 a barrel as the U.S., Europe and Japan sank deeper into recessions. Prices fell 10 percent this week.

Labor unrest and seasonal refinery maintenance have also bolstered prices. The United Steelworkers union rejected the latest contract offer from Royal Dutch Shell Plc covering workers at U.S. refineries with almost two-thirds of the country’s capacity. The current agreement expires Feb. 1.

Gasoline for February delivery rose 3.8 cents, or 3.1 percent, to $1.2689 a gallon on the Nymex, the highest closing price since Nov. 13. The February contract expired today. The March futures contract gained 2.53 cents, or 2 percent, to $1.2687 a gallon.


TradingEconomics.com, Bloomberg
2/1/2009 9:02:35 AM