Oil prices stabilize at US$93.13 on encouraging news about global economy

NEW YORK, N.Y. – The price of oil was little changed Friday after declining five per cent the previous two days.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery rose 29 cents to finish at US$93.13 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent crude, used to price oil that many U.S. refineries use to make gasoline, rose 57 cents to end at US$114.10 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Encouraging news about the global economy helped oil prices stabilize.

The European Commission said Friday that it expects the recession afflicting the economy of the 17 countries sharing the euro to bottom out in the first half of the year, with growth reaching an annual rate of 0.7 per cent in the fourth quarter. The EC expects growth in the eurozone to accelerate to 1.4 per cent next year.

And a survey of German business optimism rose sharply this month, raising hopes that the country will avoid a recession. A solid German economy could help weaker eurozone countries out of recession.

A stronger global economy is likely to mean more demand for oil and gas, which points to higher prices for fuel.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex, natural gas rose 4.5 cents to finish at US$3.29 per 1,000 cubic feet, heating oil was up less than one cent to end at US$3.10 a U.S. gallon (3.79 litres) and wholesale gasoline for April rose three cents to finish at US$3.27 a gallon.