Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Crude Oil Prices Climb as Monthly Jobs Report Looms

Oil prices rose on Wednesday as investors began to place bets ahead of Friday's monthly jobs report that figures to provide fresh clues about the strength of the rebounding economy and demand for oil. At the same time, gasoline pump prices across the country continued their slow slide toward levels not seen since a year ago. Benchmark crude for July delivery climbed 90 cents at $73.48 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.39 to settle at $72.58 on Tuesday.

Retail gasoline prices fell for the 27th straight day, dropping 0.4 cent overnight to a national average of $2.723 per gallon, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. Prices have dropped 4.8 cents in the past week and 17.2 cents in the past month. Prices remain 19.8 cents over year ago levels. Oil prices have been supported by recent economic data that have come in better than expected, including a report Wednesday that showed pending home sales at their highest level in April since October. Demand for crude products also has been increasing.

The latest read on how the U.S. economy is doing comes Friday when the unemployment report for May is released. "If this market is disappointed, it could be a new leg down for gas prices," said Phil Flynn of PFGBest. Rising stock markets helped oil prices on Wednesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up about 120 points at midday. The NASDAQ and the S&P 500 posted gains as well. Oil and gasoline prices have fallen about 16 percent in the past month, even as the spill in the Gulf of Mexico worsens. Tankers bringing imported oil to Gulf ports and taking refined product out continue to work around the huge slick at the mouth of the Mississippi River.

In other Nymex trading in July contracts, heating oil rose 3.99 cents to $2.0103 a gallon, and gasoline added 4.67 cents to $2.292 a gallon. Natural gas was up 14.3 cents at $4.391 per 1,000 cubic feet. In London, the Brent crude July contact was up $1.50 at $74.21 on the ICE futures exchange.....Here's more AP business news!

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