Crude oil rises above US$96 a barrel despite cooling US home sales in December (Oil-Prices) The price of oil rose Friday afternoon as traders brushed off a report that showed sales of new homes in the U.S. cooled in December.
Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude rose 29 cents to US$96.24 a barrel in afternoon trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell as much as 50 cents following the release of the housing data.
The U.S. Commerce Department said sales of new homes fell 7.3 per cent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 369,000. That’s down from November’s rate, which was the fastest in 2 1/2 years. Still, sales for the entire year were the best since 2009.
Oil prices are being supported by investors’ confident mood, reflected by rising indexes in global stock markets and gains by the euro against the dollar.
A weaker dollar makes crude cheaper _ and a more attractive investment _ for traders using other currencies. On Friday, the euro was up at $1.3460 from $1.3378 late Thursday in New York.
A batch of mostly positive earnings reports from Corporate America has buoyed U.S. stock markets. The S&P 500 broke through 1,500 Thursday for the first time since December 2007.
Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, gained 32 cents to US$113.60 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on Nymex, wholesale gasoline rose two cents to US$2.89 a U.S. gallon (3.79 litres), heating oil fell two cents to US$3.06 a gallon and natural gas rose three cents to US$3.48 per 1,000 cubic feet.