The price of oil extended gains above $100 a barrel Monday as the cold weather in the United States increased demand for heating fuels and solid Chinese credit numbers eased concerns over the world’s number 2 economy.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery was up 49 cents to $100.79 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday, the Nymex contract fell 5 cents to close at $100.30.
WASHINGTON – The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline has jumped 45 cents in the past 31 days, according to AAA, the fastest run-up since 2005.
Retail gasoline prices have climbed for 33 days in a row. A month ago, a gallon of regular gasoline cost $3.30; on Tuesday it stood at $3.75 nationwide.
Gasoline prices have risen to within a nickel of $4 a gallon in the District of Columbia as pump prices nationwide have been marching higher – the result of refinery closures and maintenance, lower oil production by Saudi Arabia, market anxiety about tensions in Iran and Iraq, and guarded optimism about the prospects for economic recovery in the United States, Europe and China.
The global oil balance is already tighter than forecasters expected just a few months ago, because of disruptions in oil output from nations outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and by the effectiveness of sanctions against Iran, which is exporting about 750,000 to 1 million fewer barrels a day than it was a year ago.
“The story has been one of a strong stock market, a weaker dollar and continuing geopolitical events,” said Adam Sieminski, head of the federal Energy Information Administration.
He said political strife in Syria, Yemen and Sudan cut off some supplies while the latest price surge was “driven by central bank moves in both the U.S. and Europe” and by “optimism about the economy, which changes expectations about what demand will be going over the course of the next six to 12 months.”
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Gasoline prices jumped in January, leading overall consumer prices higher and offering a reminder of the risks energy costs pose to the economic recovery.
Despite the warning signal, overall consumer prices rose just 0.2 percent, the Labor Department said on Friday, which is unlikely to ring alarm bells at the Federal Reserve.
Strong jobs and factory data have eased worries U.S. economic growth could slow sharply, but tensions between Western nations and Iran still threaten to hand the economy a repeat of 2011 when a spike in energy prices hit the recovery hard.
American drivers this week broke a record that will bring them no joy.
They collectively spent more than $448 billion on gasoline since the beginning of the year, according to the Oil Price Information Service, putting the previous record for gas expenditures — set in 2008 — in the rearview mirror with weeks of driving still to go.
It’s also a huge jump over last year, when U.S. drivers spent more than $100 billion less on gas.