Oil Extends Gains above $82 on Continued Optimism

Extending yesterday's gains on the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude futures were lifted higher by encouraging economic news on the domestic front, which outweighed bearish pressure from a stronger U.S. currency.

Adding to Monday's positive price tag, light, sweet crude oil closed today's session with a rise to $82.37 a barrel, although commodity traders, tightening their purse strings ahead of inventory reports, failed to break through an $83 resistance area.

Also rallying amid relatively lighter trading volumes, NYMEX gasoline futures posted a slight gain to $2.27 a gallon, while the Henry Hub spot price for natural gas burned brighter at $3.97 Mcf.

Today, Wall Street's good economic cheer was spurred by a rebound in U.S. consumer confidence for March, as well as an increase in home prices for January, or the eighth consecutive month for rising prices, according to Reuters.

Back on the commodity front, oil traders are eyeing product inventory forecasts ahead of Wednesday's EIA report which anticipate declines in both distillates and gasoline stockpiles by 1.6 million barrels and 1.5 million barrels, respectively.

A poll by Reuters, however, spotlights a build in crude inventories by 2.4 million barrels for the week to Mar. 26., adding to still-bearish domestic supplies.