Oil levels off after 2 days of steep losses
The Associated Press
NEW YORK — The price of oil rose modestly Friday after a 5 percent fall over the last two days.
Benchmark crude for April delivery rose 29 cents to finish at $93.13 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price oil that many U.S. refineries use to make gasoline, rose 57 cents to $114.10 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
Encouraging news about the global economy helped oil prices stabilize. The European Commission said Friday that it expects the recession afflicting the economy of the 17 countries sharing the euro to bottom out during the first half of the year, with growth reaching an annual rate of 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter. The EC expects growth in the eurozone to accelerate to 1.4 percent next year.
And a survey of German business optimism rose sharply this month, raising hopes that the country will avoid a recession. A solid German economy could help weaker eurozone countries out of recession.
A stronger global economy is likely to mean more demand for oil and gas, which points to higher prices for fuel.
U.S. stock markets rebounded from a recent slump on concerns about the fate of the Fed's stimulus program and looming budget cuts in Washington. The major indexes were all higher in afternoon trading.
In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:
— Natural gas rose 4.5 cents to finish at $3.29 per 1,000 cubic feet.
— Heating oil was up less than 1 cent to end at $3.10 per gallon.
— Wholesale gasoline for April rose 3 cents to finish at $3.27 per gallon.
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