SINGAPORE – Oil prices floated above $70 a barrel Tuesday in Asia as a jump in global stock markets boosted investor confidence.
Benchmark crude for November delivery was up 19 cents at $70.60 by midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 46 cents to settle at $70.41 Monday.
Oil has loitered near the $70 a barrel level for months as traders struggle to gauge how strongly the U.S. economy will recover.
Last week, poor jobs and manufacturing data undermined optimism, but on Monday the Institute for Supply Management said its service index showed that sector grew in September for the first time since August of last year.
Crude traders often look to stock markets for a sense of overall investor confidence. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.2 percent Monday, and most Asian indexes gained in early trading Tuesday.
A weakening dollar also helped oil prices. The euro rose to $1.4711 on Tuesday from $1.4647 the previous day, and the dollar slipped to 89.15 yen from 89.53.
In other Nymex trading, heating oil was steady at $1.79 a gallon. Gasoline for November delivery gained 0.52 cent to $1.76 a gallon. Natural gas for November delivery rose 1.4 cents to $5.00 per 1,000 cubic feet.
In London, Brent crude rose 15 cents to $68.19 on the ICE Futures exchange.