Updated from 2:51 p.m. ESTColder weather in the U.S. helped oil prices rebound from an early decline and close higher Wednesday -- a rare reprieve from the downturn of recent weeks. Near-dated contracts for light, sweet crude ended up $1.03 at $52.24 a barrel on the Nymex. Meanwhile, other products in the energy complex were mixed. Natural gas futures were off 41 cents at $6.23 per million British thermal units. Gasoline was up a penny at $1.38 a gallon, and heating oil tacked on 2 cents at $1.50 a gallon. Bullish sentiment from veteran investor T. Boone Pickens also aided oil in putting the brakes on its slump. Pickens was quoted in The Wall Street Journal as repeating his forecast for an average price of $70 a barrel in 2007. Crude finished 2006 at $61.05. Since then, it has fallen 14% as unusually warm temperatures settled over much of the country. This week that's changing, but not everyone is convinced the more seasonable weather of the past few days will have much of a sustained buoying effect. "From a heating standpoint, the current cold snap won't be that helpful unless we have a really brutal winter," says Evan Smith, co-manager of San Antonio-based U.S. Global Investors ( PSPFX) Global Resources Fund . Smith points to relatively high inventory levels as a bearish factor. He sees oil prices remaining in the $50 to $60 a barrel range in the first half before trending up toward $65 later in the year.