BANGKOK – Oil prices rose Friday ahead of the release of U.S. industrial production and manufacturing figures that analysts expect to show an improving economy.
Benchmark oil for April delivery was up 29 cents to $93.32 per barrel at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 51 cents to close at $93.03 per barrel on the Nymex on Thursday.
Traders expect to see improvement in U.S. industrial production for February when the Federal Reserve releases the details later Friday. Analysts at Capital Economics said in a market commentary that they expect a month-on-month increase of 0.6 percent.
"February's employment and hours worked data suggest that manufacturing output also increased," the analysts said, "so we wouldn't be surprised to see something of a rebound in February."
Additionally, they said they don't expect to see significant inflation when the Labor Department releases its figures, also due Friday.
Both indicators bode well for U.S. growth, which could also boost both energy consumption and energy prices.
Oil rose slightly Thursday as U.S. employment data supported the market, offsetting news about ample crude supplies and worries about the eurozone economy. Weekly U.S. jobless claims fell by a greater-than-anticipated 10,000 to 332,000, helping to sustain hopes over the U.S. labor market.
Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by U.S. refineries, was up 52 cents to $109.48 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:
— Wholesale gasoline rose 0.1 cent to $3.131 a gallon.
— Heating oil rose 0.8 cent to $3.022 a gallon.
— Natural gas rose 1.8 cents to $3.83 per 1,000 cubic feet.