Oil Price Rises, as US Stocks Stabilize


The price of oil rose nearly 1 percent Tuesday, on hopes that demand for U.S. crude would remain on track, even as some emerging-market economies falter.

Benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery was up 76 cents, to close at $97.19 a barrel in New York, reversing much of oil’s loss Monday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil used by many U.S. refineries, was down 26 cents to close at $105.78 in London.

The U.S. oil price rose along with the stock market, which regained some ground Tuesday after a drop of 2.3 percent Monday.

Stock markets around the world have been slammed by currency problems in several emerging-market countries, the Federal Reserve’s decision to shrink its stimulus program, and a slowdown in the Chinese economy.

Tuesday’s modest recovery in the U.S. stock market, and a report by real estate data firm CoreLogic that showed a strong rise in home prices in December, eased some fears that U.S. demand for fuel would fall.

So far this year, economic concerns have weighed less on oil prices than on stock prices, analysts say. That’s partly because a bitterly cold winter in the U.S. has increased demand for heating oil, which is keeping demand for crude — and global prices — strong compared with stock prices.

Forecasts for further cold across much of the U.S. sent natural gas for March delivery soaring 47 cents, or 9.6 percent, to close at $5.375 per 1,000 cubic feet. That’s the highest price for natural gas since February 2010, other than a short price spike last week in a thinly-traded expiring futures contract.

The average U.S. retail price for gasoline, which has remained very stable this year, fell less than a penny, to $3.27 per gallon. That’s a penny cheaper than last week and four cents cheaper than a month ago.

In other energy futures trading in New York:

  • Wholesale gasoline was down 0.4 cents, to close at $2.603 a gallon.
  • Heating oil was down 2.5 cents, to close at $2.983 a gallon.