Crude a Little Higher in Uncertain Market

Crude a Little Higher in Uncertain Market

Oil futures rose slightly with the dollar’s latest decline pushing concerns about the economy and demand into the shadows.

Light, sweet crude for May delivery rose 36 cents to settle at $101.22 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The modest gain was hardly part of a trend, and followed a session in which prices alternated frequently between gains and losses. Economic news kept investors off-balance. The Conference Board’s reported that consumer confidence fell much more than expected this month. The decline intensified concerns that weak consumer spending would further weaken the economy and depress demand for fuel.

And after Monday’s surprise rise in existing home sales, the latest word is that home prices as measured by the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index fell by 11.4 percent in January.

April gasoline futures gained 3.9 cents to settle at $2.6802 a gallon on the Nymex, while April heating oil futures fell 3.83 cents to settle at $2.9248 a gallon. Natural gas futures added 9 cents to settle at $9.419 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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