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Oil up on Bernanke news, Iran concerns

Benchmark U.S. crude oil gained 30 cents to $107.33 per barrel. In London, Brent crude for May delivery fell 45 cents to $125.20 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

The Associated Press

3/27/2012

NEW YORK — Oil prices rose a day after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke suggested that the central bank will continue its efforts to help spur U.S. job creation and economic growth.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil gained 30 cents to $107.33 per barrel. In London, Brent crude for May delivery fell 45 cents to $125.20 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

Oil prices remain high because of ongoing tension over Iran's nuclear program. Oil has jumped from $75 a barrel in October because of concern that a military strike by Israel or the U.S. against Iran's nuclear facilities would disrupt global crude supplies.

Meanwhile, natural gas supplies are currently more than 50 percent above the five-year average for this time of year. That's due to a boom in production in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas and others states. Warmer than usual temperatures this winter also meant homeowners used less natural gas for heating than in years past.

Natural gas prices fell again Tuesday amid doubts that a huge surplus of the fuel will be depleted anytime soon.

Natural gas futures fell 4 cents to $2.18 per 1,000 cubic feet after dropping 5 cents on Monday. That's a 10-year low and half of what natural gas was fetching back in July. Oversupply and mild winter weather have contributed to the plunge.

Any money that consumers are saving on natural gas may be going into the gasoline tank. The national average for regular gasoline in the U.S. is $3.90 per gallon. It's risen 17 cents in March and 62 cents since Jan. 1.

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A private research group said Tuesday that high pump prices contributed to a decline in consumer confidence in March.

Shiyang Wang, an analyst at Barclays Bank PLC, said in a research report that the market has turned its attention to whether the surplus gas in storage could be absorbed by hot summer weather and utilities opting to use cheap gas for power generation instead of coal. If storage is still abundant as summer ends, prices could remain low in October and November, the analyst said.

In other energy trading, heating oil fell 1 cent to $3.23 per gallon and gasoline futures dropped a penny to $3.40 per gallon.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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