Feb 3, 2015 4:11 PM

Oil surges again on signs companies slow production

The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) Oil soared again Tuesday as the low prices of the past few months force oil companies to slow down production in the U.S. and elsewhere.

In the morning, BP became the latest major oil company to announce it will cut exploration spending this year. Oil seemed to get a further boost in the afternoon from a run-up in the U.S. stock market.

U.S. oil rose $3.48, or 7 percent, to $53.05 a barrel, its highest closing price this year. Brent crude, a benchmark for many international oils imported by U.S. refineries, rose $3.16, or 5.8 percent, to $57.91 a barrel.

Oil has gained about 19 percent over three trading sessions. The sudden rally follows a months-long decline that knocked oil prices down about 60 percent from last year's peak of $107 a barrel.

The gains began Friday with a report showing a sharp drop in the number of rigs in the U.S. drilling for oil. On Monday, BP announced a 20 percent drop in capital spending for this year. That follows Chevron's projected cut of 13 percent.

The market's momentum faces some tests. The Energy Department issues its weekly report on U.S. supplies Wednesday. Analysts expect an increase of 2.8 million barrels, according to Platts. On Friday, the government puts out its latest report on U.S. employment.

Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consultant Ritterbusch Associates, also noted that even though production in the U.S. won't grow as much as previously expected, it will still proceed at a pace not seen for about three decades. And BP forecast an extended period of low oil prices.

In other futures trading in New York:

Wholesale gasoline rose 5.67 cents to $1.601 a gallon

Heating oil jumped 8.9 cents to $1.847 a gallon

Natural gas gained 7.4 cents to $2.754 per 1,000 cubic feet.


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