The price of oil rose Friday after a positive U.S. economic report, but finished with a loss for the week as supplies remain plentiful while demand is unspectacular.
Benchmark U.S. crude for December delivery gained 74 cents to close at $97.85 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Still, oil ended the week down $2.96 a barrel, or 2.9 percent, largely due to concerns among traders that the market is oversupplied.
On Friday, a jump in demand for commercial airplanes boosted orders for long-lasting U.S. factory goods by 3.7 percent in September.
But reports from the Energy Information Administration this week showed that U.S. oil inventories rose by 9.2 million barrels in the two weeks ended Oct. 18, a possible symptom of subdued demand and overproduction.
“Demand isn’t looking great, and it’s not anything to do with fuel efficiency in today’s cars. It’s the fact that there’s high unemployment, weak job creation,” said Carl Larry of Oil Outlooks and Opinions.
Lower oil prices has meant relief for U.S. drivers. The average price for a gallon of gasoline nationwide fell to $3.32 a gallon Friday, a low since late January. A month ago, gas averaged $3.48 a gallon, and last year at this time it cost $3.60.
Brent crude, a benchmark for international crude also used by U.S. refineries, fell 6 cents to $106.90 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:
- Wholesale gasoline was flat at $2.59 a gallon.
- Natural gas added 8 cents to $3.71 per 1,000 cubic feet.
- Heating oil rose 1 cent to $2.91 a gallon.