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) -- Crude oil gained nearly 4% Tuesday as the dollar lost ground against the euro and energy stocks led a broader market rally spurred by strong data and earnings reports.

The March delivery contract surged 3.9%, adding $2.88 to settle at $77.01 a barrel.

The euro made some gains against the dollar after uncertainty regarding Greece's debt pummeled the euro in recent days. But improving market temperament was pressuring the greenback against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index sliding 0.9%.

Darin Newsom, senior commodities analyst at Telvent DTN, said the dollar weakness is lifting commodity prices as investors flock to riskier asset classes, but seasonal factors cannot be ignored.

"Yes, the dollar came down, so you've got money coming into commodities right now," he said.

But Newsom also stressed "we're also at that time of year where we see the seasonal uptrend start," saying he estimates crude typically rises about 34% between the middle of February and the second week in July.

Improving stats on several fronts are also buoying the upbeat feelings helping

stocks today. The

New York Federal Reserve Bank

said its index measuring regional manufacturing activity rose 9 points to register 24.9. Strong earnings from


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were only helping matters. And

Japan also said Monday that its economy expanded at a faster-than-expected clip in the fourth quarter.


U.S. Oil Fund

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ETF gained $1.48, or 4.1%, to close at $37.79 and the

PowerShares DB Oil Fund

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ETF added 98 cents, or 3.9%, to finish the session at $26.46.

The NYSE Arca Oil Index climbed 2.7% higher, and the Philadelphia Oil Service Sector Index added another 2%.


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was among the


top gainers, adding $1.98, or 2.8%, to close at $72.99.

Fellow Dow component

Exxon Mobil

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, which rose 2.3%, said in a press statement that additions to its reserves came to 2 billion barrels of oil-equivalent in 2009, replacing 133% of production.

March delivery for natural gas shed 16 cents, or 2.9%, to $5.31 per million British thermal units after rallying Friday on news that supplies fell by a larger-than-expected 191 billion cubic feet last week.

Earnings reports from natural gas firms

Devon Energy

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XTO Energy



Chesapeake Energy

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are scheduled for release Wednesday. The stocks closed the session up by 3%, 1.9% and 3.5%, respectively.

Elsewhere on the Nymex, March heating oil gained 8 cents, or 4%, to $2 a gallon, while March gasoline improved 6 cents, or 3%, to $2 a gallon.

-- Written by Sung Moss and Melinda Peer in New York