Oil rises ahead of US retail sales, supply data

AP News
Posted: Nov 19, 2013 3:48 PM

The price of oil rose slightly Tuesday as traders waited for new clues on U.S. economic strength and the amount of oil and gasoline in supply.

Benchmark U.S. crude for December delivery gained 31 cents to close at $93.34 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Oil has traded between $93 and $96 a barrel for more than past two weeks, and is down from nearly $110 a barrel in early October due to ample supplies and tepid demand.

U.S. retail sales due Wednesday might halt oil's recent slide if the figures show increased demand for gasoline.

Iran, meanwhile, will resume talks this week in Geneva with the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany aimed at resolving a decade-long standoff over Iran's nuclear program.

The powers are offering a gradual rollback of sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy, raising concerns of an influx of Iranian oil into world markets at a time of already abundant supplies.

Fresh information on U.S. stockpiles of crude oil and refined products will be released Wednesday morning.

Data for the week ending Nov. 15 is expected to show declines of 500,000 barrels in crude oil stocks and 150,000 barrels in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

If confirmed, the fall in crude oil supplies would be the first in nearly two months. On Nov. 8, crude supplies were 13 percent above their five-year average. Gasoline stocks, however, have fallen for five weeks in a row.

At the gas pump, the nationwide average for a gallon of gasoline held at $3.21. That's 14 cents lower than a month ago and 21 cents cheaper than at this time last year.

Brent crude for January delivery, the benchmark for an international variety of crude, dropped $1.55 to $106.92 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline slipped 2 cents to $2.64 a gallon.

— Heating oil fell 2 cents to $2.91 a gallon.

— Natural gas lost 6 cents to $3.56 per 1,000 cubic feet.