Updated from 10:27 a.m. EDT
The August contract for West Texas Intermediate crude pierced the $70 a barrel level Thursday and stayed there for most of the trading session before ducking back under it just before the close.
Oil rose 74 cents to $69.71 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Reformulated gasoline climbed 2 cents to $2.27 a gallon, and heating oil gained 2 cents at $2.04 a gallon. Natural gas lost 25 cents to close at $6.84 per million British thermal units.
The last time oil was above $70 was September. The general bullishness was a side effect of Wednesday's inventory numbers. According to analysts at Barclays Research, petroleum products like gasoline and distillates are at their tightest levels since November 2004.
Analysts and traders are concerned that U.S. gasoline stores won't be sufficient to feed demand during this summer's driving season.
They are also beginning to worry about heating oil. "The seasonal build in heating oil inventories in the key consuming area should have begun two months ago, and so far there is no sign of it," according to a Barclays report. This could put a squeeze on heating oil when demand for it increases next winter.
Meanwhile, energy stocks were mostly higher. The
CBOE Oil Index
advanced 1% to 755.73.
was fractionally lower at $77.22, and
climbed 0.8% to $84.50.
stock rose 0.7% to $84.10.
A.G. Edwards upgraded shares of
to buy from hold, lifting the company's stock 6.2% to $36.73.