Oil price continues rebound, moves closer to $94

Oil prices up closer to $94 a barrel, boosted by Alcoa earnings report, lower China inflation

Associated Press

The price of oil rose slightly closer to $94 a barrel Tuesday, continuing to recover from last week's steep slide.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark oil for May delivery was up 17 cents to $93.53 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 66 cents to finish at $93.36 a barrel on the Nymex on Monday.

Early last week, crude oil prices were trading above $97 a barrel on the Nymex, but later fell over 5 percent due to a weaker-than-expected U.S. monthly jobs report and data showing stockpiles of crude oil at their highest level since 1990.

"Evidently, some market players are beginning to view the lower price level following last week's marked price slide as a good opportunity to buy," said analysts at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

"Nonetheless, the potential for a major price recovery is limited."

Commerzbank mentioned a sharp drop in China's inflation rate — falling to an annual 2.1 percent in March from 3.2 percent in February — as supportive for oil prices.

The lower inflation rate "opens up scope for stimulus measures if these are deemed necessary by the new political leadership in Beijing," Commerzbank said.

Bullish first-quarter earnings from American aluminum producer Alcoa due to higher demand from airplane and car manufacturers also contributed to the positive mood and helped boost crude prices, said a report from Sucden Financial Research in London.

Investors will also be monitoring fresh information on U.S. stockpiles of crude and refined products.

Data for the week ending April 5 is expected to show a builds 1.4 million barrels in crude oil stocks and a draw of 1.8 million barrels in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

The American Petroleum Institute will release its report on oil stocks later Tuesday, while the report from the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration — the market benchmark — will be out on Wednesday.

Brent crude, which sets the price of oil used by many U.S. refineries to make gasoline, was up 63 cents to $105.29 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline rose 3.22 cents to $2.9415 per gallon.

— Natural gas added 1.1 cent to $4.093 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil gained 0.99 cent to $2.9636 per gallon.

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Pamela Sampson in Bangkok contributed to this report.

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