Oil rises above $102 in Asia after sell-off

Published April 5, 2012 8:54AM (EDT)

SINGAPORE (AP) — Oil prices rose above $102 a barrel Thursday in Asia, rebounding from a two-day sell-off fueled by a jump in U.S. crude supplies and speculation the Federal Reserve won't implement another round of monetary stimulus to boost economic growth.

Benchmark oil for May delivery was up 83 cents to $102.30 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $2.54 to settle at $101.47 per barrel in New York on Wednesday.

Brent crude for May delivery was down 4 cents at $124.82 per barrel in London.

On Wednesday, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said crude inventories surged last week by 9 million barrels, or 2.5 percent, to their highest level since June. The supply jump was the largest on record for that week of the year, energy trader and consultant The Schork Group said in a report.

"The report strikes us as bearish for crude in the short term," Schork said. "Is the $100 mark next?"

Crude had mostly traded between $104 and $109 since February until this week, when investors eyed minutes from the Fed's last meeting in March that suggested the economy is gradually improving enough so a third round of Treasury purchases, known as quantitative easing, could be unnecessary.

Global stock markets, which oil traders look to as an overall measure of investor sentiment, also dropped. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 1 percent Wednesday while most Asian stock markets slid Thursday.

Energy consultant Ritterbusch and Associates said over time oil could fall below $100 and then to around $94 to $95 a barrel.

The global oil market will be closed Friday for the Good Friday holiday.

In other energy trading, heating oil was up 2.6 cents at $3.19 per gallon and gasoline futures added 1.1 cents at $3.34 per gallon. Natural gas fell 0.7 cent at $2.13 per 1,000 cubic feet.

By Salon Staff

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