Updated from 2:55 p.m. EST
Oil prices closed moderately higher Tuesday afternoon after touching $50 earlier in the session.
The January futures contract added 30 cents at $48.94 in Nymex floor trading. Prices jumped more than 2% at one point on renewed worries about heating oil supplies ahead of the winter season.
Such a concern triggered Friday's 5% rally, which came amid a three-week correction that has knocked the benchmark crude 16% below its closing record high of $55.17 in late October. Prices went through a similar downtown during most of July, only to bounce back and push even higher than before in August.
Weekly inventory data out Wednesday are expected to show increases in U.S. stockpiles of crude oil, gasoline and distillates such as heating oil.
Since late May, prices had hit record highs on a regular basis, as traders worried about a disruption to supply amid unusually strong global demand. Hits to production in Iraq, Nigeria, Norway and the U.S. -- where Hurricane Ivan disrupted facilities in the energy-rich Gulf of Mexico in September -- have all given traders reason to bid up prices.