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Oil gains on economic news; pump prices rise again

The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Gas pump prices rose again Tuesday, bringing the increase for the year to about a quarter a gallon. Oil gained slightly.

Benchmark oil for March delivery rose 47 cents to finish at $96.64 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude dropped by $1.60 to finish at $96.17 a barrel on Monday, the biggest drop of the year so far.

Brent crude, the benchmark used to set prices for oil used by many U.S. refineries, gained 92 cents to end at $116.52 per barrel in London on Tuesday.

Data showing rising activity in the manufacturing and services sectors in the 17 European Union countries using the euro supported oil prices. And a U.S. report indicated that the services sector continues to expand.

Recovering stock markets also buoyed oil. Most European markets rose, and U.S. stock markets posted gains of about 1 percent or better in afternoon trading

Pulling into the corner gas station cost more again Tuesday. The average price for a gallon of gas rose a penny overnight to $3.53. The price has jumped 17 cents in the past week and 24 cents since the first day of the year. On Monday the Energy Department said that U.S. drivers spent 4 percent of their pretax income on gasoline last year, the second highest percentage in thirty years.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline added 3 cents to finish at $3.04 per gallon.

— Natural gas rose 8 cents to end at $3.40 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil gained 4 cents to finish at $3.19 a gallon.


Pamela Sampson in Bangkok and Pablo Gorondi in Budapest contributed to this report.