NEW YORK (AP) -- The price of oil rose slightly Thursday, as optimism about the U.S. economy helped erase some early losses.
Benchmark crude for September delivery rose 10 cents to close at $105.49 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil fell as low as $104.08 before recovering.
Orders for long-lasting U.S. factory goods rose in June. The increase suggests companies are more confident in the economy and could boost economic growth in the second half of the year.
The report helped "to conjure up images of increased petroleum demand from the US industrial sector," said Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consultancy Ritterbusch and Associates, in a note to clients.
At the pump, the average price for a gallon of gas held at $3.66 a gallon. That's about 17 cents higher that at this time last year. But Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at GasBuddy, said this week's declines in oil and gasoline futures bode well for drivers.
"Right now, the stars are aligning for a little bit of gasoline price relief," Kloza said.
Wholesale gasoline futures fell 4 cents to $3.02 a gallon and are down 10 cents this week.
Brent crude, which is traded on the ICE exchange in London, rose 46 cents to finish at $107.65 a barrel.
In other energy futures trading on Nymex:
— Heating oil lost 1 cent to end at $3.04 a gallon.
— Natural gas retreated by 5 cents to finish at $3.64 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Pablo Gorondi in Budapest contributed to this report.