Oil above $97 as market eyes Fed, oil supplies

Friday, January 24, 2014, Vol. 38, No. 4
PABLO GORONDI, Associated Press

The price of oil rose nearly 2 percent Tuesday, reversing the losses from the previous two sessions.

Benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery gained $1.69, or 1.8 percent, to close at $97.41 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Two events could drive trading Wednesday: The latest report on U.S. oil supplies and the conclusion of a two-day meeting of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy committee.

Fed officials are widely expected to reduce the central bank's monthly bond buying that has underpinned an economic recovery.

Oil prices have benefited from the Fed's stimulus because it has kept the dollar from strengthening — making oil more affordable for traders using other currencies — and because low interest rates have attracted investors to commodities like crude oil in search of higher profits.

As for supplies, data for the week ending Jan. 24 is expected to show increases of 2.1 barrels in crude oil stocks and 1.6 million barrels in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, rose 72 cents at $107.41 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading in New York:

— Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent at $2.63 a gallon.

— Natural gas rose 19 cents to $5.03 per 1,000 cubic feet

— Heating oil gained 3 cent at $3.12 a gallon.