Oil prices rebound to near US$97 a barrel as stock markets rally

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Oil regained some of its loss from Monday as Tuesday’s economic data helped improve the outlook for energy demand.

Benchmark West Intermediate crude for March delivery rose 47 cents to finish at US$96.64 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude dropped by US$1.60 to finish at US$96.17 a barrel on Monday, the biggest drop of the year so far.

Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, gained 92 cents to end at US$116.52 per barrel in London on Tuesday.

Data showing rising activity in the manufacturing and services sectors in the 17 European Union countries using the euro supported oil prices. And a U.S. report indicated that the services sector continues to expand.

Recovering stock markets also buoyed oil. Most European markets rose, and U.S. stock markets posted gains of about 1 per cent or better in afternoon trading

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline added 3 cents to finish at US$3.04 per gallon (3.70 litres).

— Natural gas rose 8 cents to end at US$3.40 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil gained 4 cents to finish at US$3.19 a gallon.