NEW YORK — Crude oil prices wavered Tuesday as European leaders prepared to discuss a slate of proposals to fix their slumping economy later this week.
Benchmark crude rose 15 cents to end at $79.36 per barrel in New York. Heating oil gained 3.8 cents to finish $2.5765 per gallon, wholesale gasoline fell 0.07 cent to $2.6451 per gallon and natural gas futures increased 7.3 cents to $2.767 per 1,000 cubic feet.
The eurozone economy has struggled for years to overcome a collapse in property values caused by the recession and huge government debts. Now, a failure by Europe's leaders to finally find a solution would likely push the eurozone economy back into recession and cut energy demand in a region that consumes 16 percent of the world's oil.
Benchmark U.S. crude lost 23 cents to $78.98 per barrel in early afternoon trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude added 69 cents to $91.70 per barrel in London.
Prices have wavered between small gains and losses in the Tuesday session. They turned down after a report showing that consumer confidence in the U.S. fell in June for the fourth straight month over lingering worries about the economy
The situation in Europe, combined with a slowdown in U.S. hiring and a drop in Chinese manufacturing activity, has contributed to the sharp drop in oil prices since the winter. Benchmark U.S. crude hit a high of $110.55 per barrel, while Brent topped out at $128.40, both on March 1.
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In other futures trading, heating oil added 1.54 cents to $2.5539 per gallon while wholesale gasoline fell nearly a penny to $2.6364 per gallon. Natural gas lost nearly a penny to $2.686 per 1,000 cubic feet.
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