NEW YORK -- Crude oil futures rose for the second straight day yesterday, as concerns about inflation took a backseat to those about fuel demand this summer.
Energy prices had plunged earlier in the week on high inflation figures, but recovered alongside the stock market yesterday after Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said that expectations for consumer price growth are within historical ranges.
Oil prices were also boosted by natural gas futures, which surged more than 9 percent after the US government reported that natural gas storage grew less than market watchers had anticipated.
Although natural gas supply is at its highest level for this time of year, the threat of the hurricane season and unseasonably high temperatures in some parts of the United States are raising expectations for high gas and power demand in the coming months.
Light, sweet crude for July rose 36 cents to settle at $69.50 a barrel yesterday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after rising as high as $70.25 a barrel.
July Brent crude futures on London's ICE Futures exchange rose 45 cents to settle at $67.43 a barrel.
Natural gas futures soared 61.7 cents to settle at $7.207 per 1,000 cubic feet, after rising as high as $7.28.
The Department of Energy reported yesterday that natural gas storage rose 77 billion cubic feet to 2.397 trillion cubic feet last week -- about 12 billion cubic feet less than analysts and traders predicted, according to a Dow Jones Newswires survey.
Yesterday, Kuwaiti Oil Minister Sheik Ahmed al-Fahd al-Sabah said the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries won't cut its current output ceiling until oil prices stabilize.
Al-Sabah, who also is OPEC's secretary general, said the situation in Iran and Iraq would play a key role in shaping global oil prices in the coming months.