NEW YORK (AP) _ Oil prices rallied Thursday, pushing to nearly $20 per barrel a day after briefly falling below $19 for the first time since last winter.
Light sweet crude oil for delivery in January settled at $19.96 per barrel, up 45 cents, at the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Traders said the rise was an expected rebound for oil prices that had fallen from around $21.50 per barrel in late November to just below $19 at one point on Wednesday. That had been the lowest price since March.
″We went basically straight down,″ said Ronald Von Neefe, a vice president at the Nikkhah Energy Group of Refco Inc. ″You had to look for consolidation somewhere.″
Other energy futures moved higher as well.
Home heating oil for delivery in January settled at 56.55 cents a gallon, up .77 cent. Unleaded gasoline for delivery in January settled at 54.58 cents a gallon, up 1.15 cents.
Traders saw no news moving the market higher but said they were keeping an eye on the political turmoil in the Soviet Union, the world’s biggest petroleum producer and a major exporter.
After oil prices fell sharply early on Wednesday, they recovered somewhat on rumors indicating there could be problems exporting Soviet oil, as well as a report that the Algerian oil minister suggested OPEC should limit production this spring.
The Thursday buying was a continuation of the previous day’s rally, traders said.
Natural gas prices rose, with contracts for delivery in January settling at $1.873 per 1,000 cubic feet, up 2.2 cents.
In London, North Sea Brent Blend crude oil for delivery in January settled at $18.58 per barrel, up 35 cents, at the International Petroleum Exchange.