Late-day surge leaves crude oil prices virtually unchanged from Friday

NEW YORK, N.Y. – A late-day surge left oil prices virtually unchanged Monday, erasing losses of more than two per cent.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude finished down a penny at US$91.85 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In London, Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, gained 79 cents to US$114.40 a barrel.

Earlier in the day, the focus was on weaker oil demand. But traders seemed to warm slowly to some positive U.S. economic news as the day went along. Higher U.S. stock prices may have also influenced the buying of oil.

The U.S. Commerce Department said Monday that retail sales rose 1.1 per cent last month, following a 1.2 per cent increase in August. They were the largest gains in two years, driven by auto sales and the release of the iPhone5.

In other energy futures trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas fell 12.5 cents to end at US$3.486 per 1,000 cubic feet, heating oil fell 1.5 cents to US$3.209 a U.S. gallon (3.79 litres) and wholesale gasoline futures gave up 4.25 cents to US$2.85 a gallon.