The Associated Press
March 19, 2014

Oil above $100 on signs demand for fuel improving

The price of oil rose above $100 a barrel for the first time in a week Wednesday on signs of increased demand for petroleum products.

Benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery gained 67 cents to close at $100.37 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The April contract expires Thursday and the more heavily-traded May contract rose 29 cents to $99.17.

The Energy Department said that demand for gasoline rose 1.5 percent over the four-week period ended March 14, compared with the same period last year. And supplies of distillates, which include heating oil and diesel, fell by 3.1 million barrels, more than three times the decline analysts were expecting. Both figures were seen as signs of strengthening demand.

Oil also got a boost from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision to further reduce bond purchases aimed at stimulating economic growth. Traders saw that as a sign the Fed is more confident the U.S. economy can grow on its own.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, fell 94 cents to $105.85 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline fell 3 cents to $2.87 a gallon.

— Heating oil lost 1 cent to $2.90 a gallon.

— Natural gas added 3 cents to $4.48 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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