BANGKOK – Oil prices rose slightly Tuesday as expectations that the Federal Reserve would soon announce a plan to jumpstart the U.S. economy outweighed a downdraft caused by speculation that the Obama administration was preparing for a release of strategic oil reserves.
Benchmark crude for October delivery was up 8 cents to $96.62 a barrel at late afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract finished up 12 cents to $96.54 on Monday on the Nymex.
Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, rose 25 cents to $115.06.
Natalie Rampono, commodities analyst at ANZ Banking Group in Melbourne, Australia said one factor weighing on prices was speculation that the administration of President Barack Obama was closely studying the possibility of an emergency release of oil reserves in order to keep prices down.
On Friday, the U.S. government reported the economy added a weaker-than-expected 96,000 jobs last month, increasing the likelihood of another round of stimulus from the U.S. Federal Reserve when its policy makers meet later this week.
That belief has helped support oil prices in recent days, Rampono said.
In other energy futures trading, wholesale gasoline was up nearly 1 cent to $3.0314 a gallon. Heating oil fell 0.2 cent to $3.1647 a gallon. Natural gas rose 2 cents to $2.832 per 1,000 cubic feet.