BANGKOK – Oil prices rose ahead of the release of U.S. industrial production data for December that analysts expect will show additional evidence of a gradual economic recovery.
Benchmark oil for February delivery was up 33 cents to $93.61 per barrel at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dropped 86 cents to finish at $93.28 a barrel in New York on Tuesday.
"A likely strong reading for US industrial production in December will provide more evidence of US recovery, albeit a gradual one," analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong said in a market commentary.
Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney, said oil prices were reflecting caution as another heated fiscal debate began brewing in Washington.
"They are up a little, but broadly they are still trading pretty well where they were last week and within that range," Spooner said.
Just weeks after striking a deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff," U.S. lawmakers and President Barack Obama are heading for another showdown over the debt ceiling.
Congress must act to raise the congressionally set $16.4-trillion debt ceiling. If that ceiling is not raised by sometime in February or early March, the government will not be able to pay all its bills.
Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, rose 16 cents to $109.79 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on Nymex:
— Wholesale gasoline fell 0.2 cent to $2.724 a gallon.
— Natural gas fell 2.8 cents to $3.427 per 1,000 cubic feet.
— Heating oil rose 2.1 cents to $3.032 a gallon.