Crude Hits 3-Month High, Breaking $95 A Barrel

Oil futures extended their climb in early trading Monday, with Nymex futures rising above $95 a barrel for the first time since Aug. 2 as they broke with broader market trends that have usually driven prices in recent months.

Light, sweet crude for December delivery was up 96 cents, or 1.0%, at $95.22 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude on the ICE Futures Europe exchange was up $2.37, or 2.1%, at $114.34 a barrel.

Even as the governments of Greece--and possibly Italy--remake themselves in the latest discouraging euro-zone debt developments, Nymex futures broke for the moment from their usual correlations to the dollar and stocks. Crude usually trades in tandem with equities and conversely to the dollar, but the dollar was up 0.2% on the ICE Dollar Index and U.S. equity index futures were down ahead of the stock market open (a rising dollar makes dollar-denominated oil more expensive for traders using other currencies).

"The market continues to show some resilience here," Tradition Energy broker and analyst Gene McGillian said. "There's not enough negative information to drive it back from the three-month highs. The fact is, the market has had an upward bias since we held $90 (a barrel) last week...While there's a cloud over the market, it seems to be pointed higher."

Analysts and traders said crude appears to have taken on momentum of its own since a bull run has added about $20 to the barrel price in the last month. Though retail demand for gasoline and other finished petroleum products remains low, supplies have also dropped, putting the market into a bullish condition that suggests a supply-demand squeeze.

"The magnitude of last month's crude price pop of almost $20 a barrel amidst what appeared to be further economic deterioration across the euro zone attests to a market that is experiencing some shift in supply/usage balances," research firm Ritterbusch and Associates said in a note.

Front-month December reformulated gasoline blendstock, or RBOB, gained 3.28 cents to $2.6962 a gallon. December heating oil rose 2.76 cents to $3.0983 a gallon.