U.S. crude futures jumped
2.9 percent on Wednesday on lift from government data showing
sharp drops in crude and refined products stockpiles, an
equities rally and a weaker dollar.
Crude oil futures for June delivery, which became the active contract Tuesday, settled up $3.17 at $111.45 a barrel. Earlier, oil prices hit a session high of $111.66 a barrel.
Unreliable data on oil production—starting with the world's largest exporter, Saudi Arabia—are adding to the price volatility triggered by unrest in the Mideast, despite efforts to improve transparency.
Saudi Arabia said on Sunday that its production had been at least 700,000 barrels a day lower in March than existing estimates, including those published by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The surprise news pushed the price of oil down by more than $1 per barrel Monday morning.
Motorist group AAA reported Wednesday that the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline now stands at $3.837. That was up 0.2 cent from the day before, and was the 29th consecutive daily increase.
Over those days, gas prices have increased 29 cents, or about 8%. While prices are still below the all-time high of $4.114 a gallon, many analysts expect gas prices to continue rising as driving demand picks up for the summer.