Oil gained as much as 2.3 percent after equities rebounded and an analyst predicted Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley will repay the government funds they received. Demand for fuels during the past four weeks averaged 19.5 million barrels a day, up 0.6 percent from the average a week before, the Energy Department said yesterday.
Crude oil for March delivery rose 87 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $41.19 a barrel at the 2:30 p.m. close of floor trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures touched $39.46, the lowest intraday price since Jan. 20. Prices are down 7.7 percent this year and 53 percent from a year ago.
Gasoline futures for March delivery climbed 5.43 cents, or 4.5 percent, to $1.2727 a gallon in New York. Heating oil increased 3.89 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $1.3659 a gallon.
U.S. crude-oil supplies increased 7.2 million barrels to 346.1 million last week, according to the Energy Department. Inventories have gained in 17 of the past 19 weeks, leaving stockpiles 15 percent higher than the five-year average for the period, the Energy Department said yesterday.
Brent crude oil for March settlement rose $2.25, or 5.1 percent, to $46.40 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures Europe exchange. Brent futures traded at a $5.81 premium over West Texas Intermediate, the grade that’s traded in New York.
The price of oil for delivery in April is $4.56 a barrel higher than for March, up from a $3.92 premium yesterday. December futures are $13.98 higher than the front-month contract, versus $13.29 yesterday. This structure, in which the future month’s price is higher than the one before it, is known as contango, and is often an indicator of oversupply.