The price of crude is up nearly 2 percent on speculation that Chairman Ben Bernanke will provide some hints as to whether the Federal Reserve will take additional steps to revive the U.S. economy.

Crude jumped $1.80 to $96.42 per barrel in early trading Friday.

If the Fed reduces the cost of borrowing, it could boost demand for the energy needed to fuel growth and make oil and other commodities more attractive investments.

Almost all of U.S. crude oil production in the Gulf of Mexico was halted in advance of Hurricane Isaac, but production is expected to return to normal over the next several days.

The average retail gasoline price, which had surged this week due to the storm, rose less than a penny to $3.83 per gallon.