Oil rises on strong economic reports in US, Europe

April 17, 2012 

NEW YORK (AP) - Oil prices rose Tuesday on promising economic news out of Europe and expectations that a supply glut will ease in the U.S. Midwest.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude rose by $1.27 to end the day at $104.20 per barrel.

News from two key European economies signaled that oil demand won't weaken. A closely watched survey in Germany showed that investor sentiment unexpectedly rose for a fifth straight month. Spain, which has been struggling with massive government debts, also raised more cash from a bond sale than expected, signaling improving confidence in that country's finances.

Europe consumes about 18 percent of the world's oil.

In the U.S., the price of benchmark WTI climbed in anticipation of a pipeline that's expected to carry oil out of the oversupplied Midwest. The government said on Friday that the Seaway Pipeline will soon begin moving oil from Cushing, Okla., to the U.S. Gulf, where it can be shipped elsewhere.

Positive signs also emerged in the U.S. economy. Stocks rose following robust quarterly profits from Coca-Cola and other big companies. A stronger economy typically increases demand for energy.

Brent crude, used to set the price of oil imported by U.S. refineries, increased by 10 cents to end at $118.78 per barrel.

Meanwhile, the national average price for gasoline was flat at $3.907 per gallon, according to auto club AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. A gallon of regular unleaded has increased by 63 cents per gallon since the beginning of the year.

A report released Tuesday by MasterCard SpendingPulse said that motorists have cut back on gasoline for 56 consecutive weeks, when compared with the same period last year.

In other energy trading, natural gas futures hit a new 10-year low. The contract lost 6.5 cents to end at $1.951 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil added a penny to finish at $3.1266 per gallon and gasoline futures gave up 3.3 cents to finish at $3.234 per gallon.

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Follow Chris Kahn on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ChrisKahnAP

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