Crude oil for February delivery settled at $90.30 a barrel Wednesday.
Oil's 92-cent gain from the previous day followed an encouraging report on private-sector hiring by the payroll processor ADP. In its monthly National Employment Report, ADP concluded that nonfarm private employment increased by 297,000 in December. The increase greatly exceeded economists' expectations and contributed to rallies in equities markets, and the positive sentiment carried over into the oil and gasoline futures markets.
February crude traded within a range from $88.10 to $90.84. Front-month gasoline, which settled four cents higher at $2.45 a gallon, fluctuated from $2.37 to $2.46.
The February natural gas futures price erased recent gains during Wednesday's trading, falling 20 cents to settle at $4.47 per thousand cubic feet. Profit-taking and a milder weather forecast prompted the decline.
Natural gas peaked at $4.64 and bottomed out at $4.45 Wednesday.
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