Crude oil rises above US$104 on strong economic data, pipeline news

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Oil prices rose Tuesday on promising economic news out of Europe and expectations that a supply glut will ease in the U.S. Midwest.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude rose by $1.27 to end the day at US$104.20 a barrel.

Meanwhile, news from two key European economies signalled that oil demand won’t weaken.

A closely watched survey in Germany showed that investor sentiment unexpectedly rose for a fifth straight month. And Spain, which has been struggling with massive government debts, also raised more cash from a bond sale than expected, signalling improving confidence in that country’s finances.

Europe consumes about 18 per cent of the world’s oil.

In the U.S., the price of benchmark WTI climbed in anticipation of a pipeline that’s expected to carry oil out of the oversupplied Midwest. The government said on Friday that the Seaway Pipeline will soon begin moving oil from Cushing, Okla., to the U.S. Gulf, where it can be shipped elsewhere.

Positive signs also emerged in the U.S. economy. Stocks rose following robust quarterly profits from Coca-Cola and other big companies. A stronger economy typically increases demand for energy.

Brent crude, used to set the price of oil imported by U.S. refineries, increased by 10 cents to end at US$118.78 a barrel.

In other energy trading, natural gas futures hit another 10-year low. The contract lost 6.5 cents to end at US$1.951 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Heating oil added a penny to finish at US$3.1266 a U.S. gallon (3.79 litres) and gasoline futures gave up 3.3 cents to finish at US$3.234 a gallon.