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Oil remains above $95 as US retail sales improve

Pamela Sampson, AP Business Writer

BANGKOK (AP) -- The price of oil rose Tuesday after U.S. retail sales unexpectedly increased in April.

Benchmark oil for June delivery was up 6 cents to $95.23 per barrel at late afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 87 cents to finish at $95.17 a barrel on the Nymex on Monday.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported Monday that Americans increased spending at retailers last month. Retail sales increased 0.1 percent in April from March, beating expectations of a slight decline. The improvement, while slight, is worth noting because consumer spending comprises roughly 70 percent of the country's economic activity.

Later Tuesday, traders are looking for good news when Germany's ZEW institute releases its monthly investor confidence index for Europe's biggest economy.

"The German ZEW index should benefit from the strong rebound in equities and could surprise to the upside," said Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong in an email commentary.

Brent crude, which is a benchmark for many international oil varieties, rose 2 cent to $102.66 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline rose 0.3 cent to $2.824 a gallon.

— Heating oil fell 0.5 cent to $2.886 a gallon.

— Natural gas rose 1 cent to $3.934 per 1,000 cubic feet.