Oil posts slight loss; gasoline up to $3.33
The price of oil fell slightly Friday as a report showing a cooling off in new home sales offset the positive influence of ebullient U.S. stock markets.
Benchmark oil fell 7 cents to close at $95.88 in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It ended the week with a gain of 32 cents.
The Commerce Department said new-home sales fell 7.3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 369,000. That's down from November's rate, which was the fastest in 2 ½ 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 $1.3458 from $1.3378 late Thursday in New York.
A batch of mostly positive earnings reports from Corporate America buoyed U.S. stock markets. The S&P 500 broke through 1,500 Thursday for the first time since December 2007 and lingered above that milestone on Friday. European stocks posted strong gains as well.
In the U.S., the average price for a gallon of gas rose a penny to $3.33, up 4 cents from a week ago. Although the price of oil moved little this week, it did rise more than $4 in the year's first three weeks, and that increase is starting to show up at the gas pump.
Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, ended flat at $113.28 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on Nymex:
— Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to finish at $2.88 per gallon.
— Natural gas ended unchanged at $3.44 per 1,000 cubic feet.
— Heating oil fell 3 cents to finish at $3.06 a gallon.
Pamela Sampson in Bangkok and Pablo Gorondi in Budapest contributed to this report.