KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – The price of oil climbed above $94 a barrel Wednesday ahead of a weekly U.S. stockpile report and with U.S. demand for heating fuel expected to rise amid severe cold weather.
Benchmark U.S. oil for February delivery was up 39 cents to $94.06 a barrel at midafternoon Kuala Lumpur time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 24 cents to end at $93.67 on Tuesday.
A deep freeze has spread from the U.S. Midwest to the East and South, setting record low temperatures from Boston to Birmingham, and killing 21 people. The Midwest and the East experienced temperatures colder than much of Antarctica, supporting oil prices as demand for heating fuel rises.
An estimated 190 million people in the U.S. were subjected to the icy blast, caused by a kink in the "polar vortex," the strong winds that surround the North Pole. Authorities said the worst should be over in the next day or two. Warmer weather — at least, near or above freezing — is in the forecast for much of the stricken part of the country.
Analysts said investors are also waiting for the U.S. government's crude inventory report that is likely to show a fall in stockpiles last week, indicating stronger demand.
Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, was up 18 cents to $107.53.
In other energy futures trading:
— Wholesale gasoline dipped 0.1 cent to $2.678 a gallon.
— Natural gas rose 3 cents to $4.329 per 1,000 cubic feet.
— Heating oil was up 0.4 cent to $2.964 a gallon.