Gasoline demand sends crude prices up
The price of crude oil was up on Wednesday as figures form the Energy Information Administration showed that the demand for gasoline in the US had risen by 2.5 percent in the past month as compared to the same period last year. The EIA also reported that crude oil inventories grew by 1.2 million barrels to a total of 328 million barrels in the week ending February 24. Gasoline stockpiles were also up for the ninth week in a row, to a total of 225.9 million barrels, the most in storage since June 1999. Distillate inventories, including heating oil, diesel, and jet fuel, were down on the week.
April contract West Texas Intermediate crude prices were up 34 cents to $61.75 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange in early after noon trade. Meanwhile, Brent crude for April delivery on the International Petroleum Exchange advanced by 46 cents to $62.22 in late afternoon trade in London. Nymex gasoline futures for April gained less than a half-cent to $1.5970 despite the increased demand.
In the metals markets, gold was up $2 to $563.30/$564.20 per troy ounce after peaking at $566.50 per troy ounce earlier in the session, a three-week high.
Three-month copper was up $57 to $4,855 per tonne on the London Metal Exchange. Aluminium and zinc prices fell on the day, however. Three-month aluminium dropped $53 to $2,420 per tonne, while zinc prices were down $9 to $2,350 per tonne. Analysts said that zinc prices could rise higher than the price of aluminium due to rising demand and declining inventories of zinc.