Oil edges higher to US$96.44 amid strong durable goods news, weaker housing data

NEW YORK, N.Y. – The price of oil rose Monday after a strong durable goods report from the U.S. Commerce Department.

Demand for long-lasting manufactured goods rose sharply in December with gains in volatile aircraft orders, the Commerce Department said. But the number of pending home sales fell last month after hitting a 2 1/2 year high in November.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude rose 56 cents to finish at US$96.44 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Meanwhile, this is a big week for U.S. economic indicators. In addition to Monday’s data, the government will release reports on weekly jobless claims, unemployment and fourth-quarter growth. And the Federal Reserve’s policy committee holds a two-day meeting that concludes on Wednesday.

Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, rose 20 cents to end at US$113.48 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex, wholesale gasoline rose six cents to finish at US$2.94 a U.S. gallon (3.79 litres), heating oil rose about half a cent to finish at US$3.06 a gallon and natural gas fell 16 cents to end at US$3.29 per 1,000 cubic feet.