Crude gained as speculation that Europe will take steps to address the financial crisis boosted the euro against the U.S. currency, making dollar-priced crude cheaper. The American Petroleum Institute said yesterday inventories rose 1.6 million barrels last week to 345.8 million barrels. An Energy Department report due today is expected also to show stockpiles gained.
Crude oil for March delivery rose as much as $1.48, or 4.3 percent, to $36.10 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract traded at $35.62 at 12:17 p.m. London time. Prices are down 21 percent this year.
March trading ends tomorrow. The more-active April contract was at $38.50 a barrel, up $1.09, at 12:18 a.m. London time. Brent crude oil for April settlement was at $40.67 a barrel, up $1.12, on London’s ICE Futures Europe exchange.
The Energy Department report may show that U.S. stockpiles increased 3.2 million barrels last week, according to a Bloomberg News survey of analysts. That would be the 19th time in 21 weeks when inventories climbed.
The API said on Feb. 10 that U.S. stockpiles fell 1.99 million barrels in the week endedFeb. 6. The Department of Energy followed on Feb. 11 with a report that said inventories gained 4.7 million barrels over the same period.
The Energy Department is scheduled to release its weekly report today at 11 a.m. in Washington, a day later than usual because of the Presidents Day holiday.