NEW YORK - Oil futures drifted higher in light holiday trading yesterday after predictions of a drop in crude inventories raised new supply concerns.
With little other news to motivate buying or selling, investors focused on forecasts by analysts including Addison Armstrong, director of exchange-traded markets at TFS Energy Futures L.L.C., who predicted crude supplies fell 1.5 million barrels last week. Tim Evans, an analyst at Citigroup Inc., predicted that crude supplies fell 2 million to 3 million barrels.
The Energy Department's Energy Information Administration reports oil inventories Thursday this week, a day later because of Christmas.
Light, sweet crude for February delivery rose 82 cents to settle at $94.13 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after falling as low as $92.50 earlier. Prices rose more than $2 Friday after the government reported consumer spending jumped more than expected in November, raising hopes that the economy will weather the crisis roiling credit markets and that demand for oil and gasoline will rise.
Rising stocks also sent oil prices higher yesterday; energy investors often view the stock market as a barometer of economic sentiment. But analysts cautioned against reading too much into price moves on light trading days around the holidays, noting that prices can be distorted when volume is low. The Nymex closed an hour earlier, at 1:30 p.m., and markets in the United States and many other countries will be closed today for Christmas.
At the pump, gasoline prices fell 0.2 cent overnight to a national average of $2.974 a gallon, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.