New data on manufacturing sends oil prices higher
The price of crude oil was up Thursday, a day before markets closed for the Easter holiday in Europe and the United States, as investors were encouraged by the news that manufacturing activity expanded in March in the US, Europe and China.
In addition, Wednesday’s announcement from US President Barack Obama that he will open new offshore drilling areas along US coasts tended to push prices higher, as did inventory data from the US Energy Information Administration showing that while natural gas inventories rose last week, they didn’t go up by as much as had been expected.
The EIA reported that natural gas in storage gained 12 billion cubic feet in the week ending 26 March, not as much as the 14 billion to 18 billion cubic feet analysts had anticipated.
Still, the 1.64 trillion cubic feet in inventories is 10.8 percent above the five-year average.
In early afternoon trade in New York, May contracts for West Texas Intermediate crude had added 97 cents to $84.73 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while at last report Brent crude was up $1.17 to $83.87 per barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London.
The news on natural gas inventories sent Nymex May futures up 25 cents to $4.12 per million British thermal units, while May gasoline futures on Nymex added less than a cent to $2.31 per gallon and May heating oil futures were up 2 cents to $2.20 per gallon.
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