LONDON – The price of oil rose Tuesday, buoyed by gains in other financial markets, as investors awaited the release this week of the minutes from the Federal Reserve's last meeting that will give clues as to the intentions of the U.S. central bank.
Benchmark oil for September delivery rose 71 cents to $96.68 per barrel in midday trading in London in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dropped 4 cents to finish at $95.97 per barrel in New York Monday.
Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, rose 79 cents to $114.48 per barrel in London.
Traders were waiting for the release on Wednesday of the minutes to the Fed's July meeting for signs that the central bank might take steps to lower interest rates to spur the sluggish recovery, said Natalie Rampono, ANZ Banking Group commodities analyst.
Lower rates are usually positive for oil prices because they drive investors away from safe haven investments like Treasurys and toward riskier assets like commodities and oil.
Investors will also be monitoring fresh information on U.S. stockpiles of crude and refined products.
Data for the week ending Aug. 17 is expected to show draws of 2 million barrels in crude oil stocks and of 1.25 million barrels in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.
The American Petroleum Institute will release its report on oil stocks later Tuesday, while the report from the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration — the market benchmark — will be out on Wednesday.
Oil has risen to around $96 per barrel in recent days from $78 in late June. Investors have also been worried about disruption to oil supplies in the Middle East and North Sea.
In the U.S., there were problems with refineries and pipelines in the West Coast and Midwest, including a fire in California. Seasonal factors are also at play: Summer blends of gas cost more and demand goes up as families go on vacation.
Additionally, the Obama administration appears to be concerned about high gasoline prices. A senior administration official told The Associated Press on Friday that the U.S. is considering a release of oil from the country's strategic reserves. It will monitor gas prices to see whether they fall before making a decision.
In other futures trading on the Nymex, heating oil was up 1 cent $3.11 per gallon. Natural gas rose 1 cent to $2.79 per 1,000 cubic feet.