NEW YORK — The price of oil closed at a four-month high Tuesday as global economic reports point to improving conditions.
Benchmark oil rose 68 cents to $96.24 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil has risen nearly $3 a barrel over the last four trading sessions.
A US government report showed that last year was the best for US home sales since 2007 and analysts expect further improvement this year. Meanwhile, German investor confidence saw an unexpectedly large jump in a new survey. The Bank of Japan’s announcement of more bond purchases next year also buoyed oil prices.
But it is unclear whether oil can rise much higher in the near-term. Supplies of oil and gasoline are ample and there remains uncertainty about the outcome of negotiations on the US debt limit. Though Republican lawmakers are expected to accept a temporary increase in the borrowing limit, a final deal is not in sight.
Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consultancy Ritterbusch and Associates, said in a note to clients that recent support from bullish economic reports “could be wearing thin.” He also cautioned that economic gains in the United States and China might not “be translating to appreciable increases in global oil demand.”
At the pump, gasoline ticked up to a national average of $3.31 a gallon, about 7 cents less than a year ago.
Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, was up 71 cents to $112.42 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.