Oil Prices Stage Recovery

Crude finishes the day up $1.11 at $58.62 a barrel.
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Updated from 1:10 p.m. EST

Energy commodities climbed Tuesday as investors prepared for the release of new crude oil inventory numbers by the Energy Information Agency a day from now.

Cold weather covering much of the U.S. during the week of Feb. 9 has some analysts anticipating large withdrawals from distillate and natural gas inventories.

Crude oil finished the day up $1.11 at $58.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Natural gas was 14 cents higher at $7.37 per million British thermal units. Heating oil was up 4 cents at $1.69 a gallon, and gasoline added 6 cents to finish at $1.61 a gallon.

According to David Pursell, energy analyst at Pickering Energy Partners in Houston, conflicting forces on the demand side are restraining the price of crude oil within a range of $50 to $60 a barrel.

The National Weather Service is forecasting warmer weather for the remaining winter months. This would reduce heating demand in the U.S., making it difficult for crude prices to climb past the $60 level, Pursell said.

Going forward, he believes that, barring any surprises, the U.S. will have plenty of inventory for its summer cooling and driving season, he said.

At the same time, growing demand in emerging markets is preventing the price of oil from falling very far. A report released Tuesday by the International Energy Agency stated that fourth-quarter global demand for oil was 1.3 million barrels per day higher than a year earlier despite a milder-than-normal start to winter.

The IEA revised its figures for 2006 upward by 111,000 barrels of oil per day to 84.5 million barrels. It also raised its estimates for 2007 by 273,000 barrels.

Higher expected demand for oil in China was primarily responsible for the revisions, according to the IEA Web site.

Energy stocks ended the trading session broadly higher, riding on the wave of stronger commodity prices.

BP

(BP) - Get Report

was up 1% at $62.83.

ConocoPhillips

(COP) - Get Report

finished 1.8% higher at $67.22, and

Exxon Mobil

(XOM) - Get Report

was up 1.1% at $75.45.

The iPath Goldman Sachs Crude Oil ETF was up 2% at $36.30. The Oil Services Holdrs ETF was up 2.3% at $138.59. The CBOE Oil Index finished ahead by 1.4% at 638.38.