Oil prices rise as U.S. supplies of gasoline shrink | VailDaily.com

Oil prices rise as U.S. supplies of gasoline shrink

NEW YORK – Oil prices rose Thursday after the U.S. government released data showing a significant drop in domestic gasoline inventories.The Department of Energy said the supply of gasoline declined by 1.2 million barrels last week to 202.9 million barrels, or 6 percent below year ago levels. Gasoline futures traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange climbed 6.13 cents to settle at $1.624 per gallon.But the Energy Department also reported that commercial inventories of crude oil grew by 100,000 barrels last week to 322.6 million barrels, or 13 percent above year ago levels, and that appeared to temper oil’s rise.Nymex light sweet crude for February delivery rose 50 cents to settle at $60.32 a barrel, while Brent crude traded on the ICE Futures exchange increased by 5 cents to $57.69 a barrel.The price of Nymex crude is about 15 percent below its Aug. 30 high of $70.85. Oil prices remained above $60 a barrel for months after Hurricane Katrina disrupted Gulf of Mexico oil and gas output and dipped below $60 recently amid mild winter weather in the United States.Heating oil futures rose by 2.04 cents to close at $1.7029 per gallon on Nymex – a reflection of declining U.S. inventories of distillate fuel, which includes heating oil and diesel. In its weekly petroleum supply report, the Energy Department said distillate inventories declined by 900,000 barrels last week to 126.8 million barrels, or 1 percent above last year.Meantime, natural gas futures slid 41.4 cents to settle at $11.223 per 1,000 cubic feet after the Energy Department said domestic storage of natural gas stood at 2.64 trillion cubic feet on Dec. 23. That is 8 percent below year ago levels, but 1 percent above the five-year average for this time of year.On Wednesday, January natural gas futures reversed a three-day slide of 23 percent, rising 40.9 cents to settle at $11.431. Natural gas, which briefly topped $15 earlier this month, has been under pressure lately amid forecasts calling for mild weather in much of the U.S.According to Accuweather.com, temperatures in most of the United States apart from the northwest will be higher than normal in the next six to 10 days. The U.S. northeast is the world’s biggest heating oil market.Vail, Colorado

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