Crude prices rise on storm worries
Crude oil prices were higher Friday on weather concerns and after a new Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index reading showed that consumer confidence is at its highest level since January 2008.
Investors were worried that a storm in the Caribbean sea could strengthen into a tropical depression over the weekend and then enter the Gulf of Mexico, possibly at hurricane strength, within the next few days with the potential of disrupting oil and gas production in the region as well as hampering efforts to clean up the oil spill caused by the explosion of a BP (LSE: BP) drilling rig in April.
August contracts for West Texas Intermediate crude were $2.15 higher to $78.66 per barrel in early afternoon trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude had added $1.56 to $78.03 per barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London.
Nymex July gasoline futures were up 6 cents to $2.16 per gallon and July heating oil futures were 5 cents higher to $2.10 per gallon while July natural gas had gained 6 cents to $4.81 per million British thermal units.
The retail price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in the United States was up slightly overnight, to $2.755 per gallon on average nationally, according to AAA, which predicted Thursday that 35 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home by car over the upcoming Fourth of July weekend in the United States, 17 percent more than did so last year.
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