Oil gets boost from economic data, Moscow bombing

Oil gets boost from economic data, Moscow bombing

Oil prices got a boost Monday from positive economic indicators and worries about terrorist bombings in Moscow, AP reported.

Benchmark crude for May delivery jumped $2.17 to settle at $82.39 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

At least 38 people died and more than 60 were hurt after two female suicide bombers blew themselves up in Moscow subway stations during rush-hour.

PFG analyst Phil Flynn said, "Because Russia is a major oil producer, there are fears that there could be more attacks in the future," and this could cramp oil supply from the country.

Flynn said traders reacted emotionally and demand is still the key factor. "I think more than anything oil is going back up on increased demand expectations and basically hopes that the situation in Europe is under control," he said.

Flynn also noted that today's rise in crude is "exaggerated a little because of the upcoming holidays."

Energy analyst Stephen Schork said he wasn't surprised by the crude price jump, given the news from Moscow, the weaker dollar and "end-of-quarter book squaring."

"It's the last three days of the quarter, large swings in volatility at this point are not to be unexpected," he said.

The Commerce Department said consumer spending rose for the fifth consecutive month in February. That raised hopes that oil and gasoline demand would pick up as well.

Meanwhile, European markets rose with investors more upbeat about Greece's ability to handle its debt problems. That put some pressure on the dollar, making crude cheaper for investors with other currencies.

Gasoline pump prices edged down slightly for motorists gearing up for Passover, Easter and spring break road trips.

Nationwide average retail prices shed less than a penny overnight to $2.80 a gallon. Pump prices are 9.7 cents higher than a month ago and 75.5 cents more expensive than the same time last year, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. Motorists are paying 14.9 cents per gallon more now than they were at the start of the year.

Gasoline prices have climbed in recent weeks as refineries began producing more expensive blends to reduce pollution in warmer weather. Last Monday, the national average gasoline price was $2.82 a gallon, the highest since October 2008.

In other Nymex trading in April contracts, heating oil rose 4.91 cents to close at $2.1188 a gallon, and gasoline gained 6.38 cents to settle at $2.2613 a gallon. Natural gas fell 13.9 cents to close at $3.842 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent crude added $1.88, settling at $81.17 on the ICE futures exchange.

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