NEW YORK -- Oil prices rose yesterday as traders assessed declines in US supplies of gasoline and diesel fuel.
Other factors prompting traders to buy were the possibility of further OPEC production cuts; the specter of cold winter weather; and the feeling that the newly empowered Democrats won't be shaking up the oil industry anytime soon.
"There's some relief over the bipartisan tone the Democratic leadership is taking," said Cameron Hanover analyst Peter Beutel.
Light sweet crude for December delivery climbed 90 cents to settle at $59.83 a barrel Wednesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Brent crude on London's ICE Futures exchange rose $1.11 to settle at $59.59 a barrel.
Heating oil futures rose more than 3 cents to settle at $1.7106 a gallon, and unleaded gasoline futures rose nearly 4 cents to settle at $1.5636 a gallon. Natural gas futures rose 6.8 cents to settle at $7.823 per 1,000 cubic feet.
US crude inventories rose last week by 400,000 barrels to 334.7 million barrels, but gasoline inventories fell by 600,000 barrels to 204 million barrels, the US Energy Information Administration said yesterday.
Distillate fuel inventories fell by 2.7 million barrels to 138.6 million barrels, the EIA said. Distillates include heating oil and diesel fuel; heating oil inventories rose slightly last week, but were offset by a huge 10 percent decline in diesel inventories.
Refineries' production decreased slightly last week to 88.1 percent, the EIA said.
"This is not a radically shocking set of data. However . . . it shows somewhat smaller inventory surpluses than what we've seen in recent weeks," said Tim Evans, an energy analyst at Citigroup Global Markets. He added that the increase in crude was smaller than usual for this time of year and the gasoline and distillate decreases were larger than usual.
US oil and natural gas supplies are still ample -- above the average for this time of year. But energy prices remain buoyed by strong demand and a forecasts for a colder-than-normal winter in parts of the United States.
The market is also considering whether OPEC would make additional production cuts in December following a plan to reduce oil output by 1.2 million barrels a day starting Nov. 1.