Natural gas and oil ended the week with solid gains, with one boosted by forecasts for colder temperatures and the other by signs that US manufacturing is heating up.
The price of natural gas rose six cents, or 1.6 per cent, to finish at US$3.87 per 1,000 cubic feet. It gained nearly 7 per cent for the week, boosted mainly by forecasts for cold temperatures in many gas-consuming regions through the end of the month.
Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consultancy Ritterbusch and Associates, said in a note to clients that he expects natural gas to make "a run at the US$4 mark early next week" assuming no change in weather forecasts.
The price of oil rose 42 cents to end at US$93.45 per barrel. It was up US$1.50, or 1.6 per cent, for the week on signs of improvement in the US job market and manufacturing sector.
Increase in auto output
The government said a strong increase in auto output boosted US factory production by a seasonally adjusted 0.8 per cent last month.
Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by US refineries, gained 86 cents to finish at US$109.82 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
Experts said Brent's rise was due partly to reports of lower oil exports from Iran - which is enduring sanctions from Western powers because of its nuclear programme - and expectations about aggravated geopolitical tensions in the Middle East related to the upcoming visit to Israel by President Barack Obama.
A weaker dollar was also supporting oil prices, making crude cheaper for traders using other currencies. The euro was up at US$1.3057 from US$1.3010 late Thursday.
At the pump, the average price for gas dipped to US$3.695 a gallon. That's about 12 cents cheaper than a year ago,
In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:
Wholesale gasolene added two cents to end at US$3.16 a gallon.
Heating oil rose one cent to finish at US$2.94 a gallon.