Lifted by a bullish drop in U.S. crude inventories, as well as upbeat economic data on the domestic front, crude futures snapped a recent losing streak on the New York Mercantile Exchange Wednesday to soar past an $85 resistance area.
On target to test $90 in the near term, the price of light, sweet crude oil for May delivery added $1.79 to yesterday's final price tag to close higher at $85.84 a barrel.
Also rising on today's commodity exchange, NYMEX gasoline futures scaled above $2.32 a gallon, while natural gas spot prices at the Henry Hub burned brighter at $4.20 Mcf.
"I think we're seeing the rally that drove oil prices to 18-month highs starting up again," commented Gene McGillian, analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.
The analyst underscored several supportive factors helping to prop up the price per barrel of crude today, including weakness in the dollar, encouraging retail sales for March and positive earnings reports out of U.S. companies.
"The stronger earnings reports can point to improving economic conditions, which have played a primary role in rallying oil prices," McGillian explained.
Furthermore, the Energy Information Administration posted surprisingly supportive technical data for the previous week, which renewed risk appetite for the energy commodity and pushed prices back into positive territory.
Specifically, crude oil supplies -- expected to have grown by 1.4-1.5 million barrels -- fell by 2.2 million barrels in the week to Apr. 9. Also paring down bearish levels, gasoline stocks shed 1.1 million barrels last week, trumping forecasts for a mere 600,000-barrel loss.
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