BANGKOK – The price of oil rose slightly Wednesday, adding to gains a day after OPEC upgraded its forecast for global crude demand.
Benchmark oil for March delivery was up 8 cents to $97.59 per barrel at late afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 48 cents to finish at $97.51 per barrel on the Nymex on Tuesday after OPEC raised its 2013 forecast for global oil demand to 89.7 million barrels. That's 80,000 barrels more than its previous forecast a month ago.
The Vienna-based organization comprising many of the world's key oil exporters cited "some signs of recovery in the global economy and colder weather at the start of this year."
Traders were looking to the U.S. later in the day for the release of January retail sales figures to help gauge U.S. economic growth.
Retail sales rose in December as consumers spent more on autos, furniture and clothing. But consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity, could slow as a result of higher payroll taxes that took effect under the deal cut by Washington lawmakers at the end of last year to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.
"January's retail sales report is eagerly anticipated as it will provide the first real guide to how the payroll tax hike affected spending," Paul Dales of Capital Economics wrote in a market commentary.
Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, fell 12 cents to $118.54 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:
— Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $3.06 a gallon.
— Natural gas rose 1.4 cents to $3.244 per 1,000 cubic feet.
— Heating oil rose 0.5 cent to $3.241 a gallon.