The price of oil climbed above US$97 a barrel Tuesday for the first time in four months, and analysts said it could go higher if upcoming reports on jobs and United States (US) economic growth are positive.
Benchmark oil for March delivery rose $1.13, or 1.2 per cent, to close at US$97.57 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil had not closed above US$97 in New York since September 14, 2012. It is now up more than US$5 a barrel this year.
This is a big week for US economic indicators. So far, investors, both in commodities and stocks, have embraced the positive reports while discounting the negative ones.
A report Tuesday showed US home prices in November had the biggest year-over-year increase in six years, as evidence grows that the US housing market is recovering. That outweighed a separate report that indicated higher taxes and an uncertain economic picture are sapping consumer confidence.
The government will also this week release the latest numbers on fourth-quarter growth, weekly jobless claims and January unemployment. If those reports suggest that the economy is strengthening and hiring is picking up, oil would likely add to its recent gains.
Oil has posted seven straight weekly gains, something not seen since 2009, noted Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service. He said the market "seems to want to move above $100" as investors buy on the recent momentum, a trend he refers to as "money chasing money".
Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, rose 88 cents to end at US$114.36 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
Wholesale gasolene rose four cents to finish at US$2.97 per gallon, natural gas lost six cents to end at US$3.23 per 1,000 cubics feet, and heating oil gained five cents to finish at US$3.11 a gallon.