Oil prices climbed Tuesday on expectations of a slower — but still growing — global economy.
Benchmark crude rose $1.96, or 2.3 percent, to end the day at $88.34 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price many international kinds of oil, rose 99 cents to finish at $111.15 a barrel in London.
Oil fell early in the day after China said its surging economy cooled slightly in the last quarter. But prices rebounded by midday, following a broad rally on Wall Street.
Analysts pointed out that even though China's economy slowed a little from July to September, its 9.1 percent growth rate was still red hot when compared with the West. China is the second biggest oil consumer in the world after the U.S.
Meanwhile a U.S. trade group said homebuilders are less pessimistic about the struggling housing market. The National Association of Home Builders reading wasn't high enough to signal a recovery, but it was still good news for the beleaguered housing industry.
In Libya rebels strengthened their control of the country. That raised expectations that Libya soon will be able to supply oil to world markets again. A return of Libyan exports would lower oil prices as supplies increase, but some think it will be a while before Libyan oil returns. "We're still waiting for those exports," independent oil analyst Andrew Lipow said. "I'll believe it when I see it."
Libya's 1.5 million barrels of daily oil exports were shut down when fighting spread across the country in February. The loss of Libyan oil helped drive benchmark prices to three-year highs by April.
At the pump, retail gasoline prices rose less than a penny to a national average of $3.469 per gallon, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. A gallon of regular has dropped nearly 53 cents since peaking near $4 in May, but it's still nearly 64 cents higher than a year ago.
High pump prices this year have convinced more people to make fewer trips to the gas station. U.S. motorists have bought less gasoline than a year ago for five straight months, according to MasterCard SpendingPulse. Its private survey of credit card transactions estimates that gas consumption last week was down about 3 percent from the same period last year.
In other energy trading, heating oil rose 1.41 cents to end at $3.0277 per gallon, while gasoline futures added less than a penny to finish at $2.7469 per gallon. Natural gas fell 13.5 cents, or 3.7 percent, to end at $3.553 per 1,000 cubic feet.
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