NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Oil prices surged 3% Tuesday after Alcoa ( AA) increased guidance for aluminum consumption, getting earnings seasons off to a strong start and helping to ease fears of a double-dip recession. The August delivery crude contract on the Nymex gained $2.20, or 2.9%, to settle at $77.15 a barrel. Stocks finished ahead for the sixth consecutive session on Tuesday, helped by
Alcoa's raised aluminum consumption forecast and better-than-expected results. Also helping to prop up the crude rally, the International Energy Agency released its monthly oil market report Tuesday, highlighted by a marginal increase in its 2010 oil demand outlook. The projection stands at 86.5 million barrels a day, or 2.1% above 2009 levels. Still, demand projections are expected to ease in 2011, rising 1.6%. After the closing bell, the industry's American Petroleum Institute said crude oil supplies rose by 1.74 million barrels in the week ending July 9, dashing analysts' expectations for a decline of 2.6 million barrels, according to a Platts poll. The government's Energy Information Administration is scheduled to report its own stockpile levels on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. EDT. In addition to a drop in crude stocks, analysts are anticipating an increase of 950,000 barrels to gasoline supplies and an additional 800,000 barrels of distillates. The Dow Jones Industrial Average held triple-digit gains throughout most of Tuesday's session, and shares of oil components Exxon Mobil ( XOM) and Chevron ( CVX) gained 0.8% and 1.9%, respectively. The NYSE Arca Oil index was added 1.7%, and the Philadelphia Oil Service Sector index rose 0.4%. Elsewhere, BP ( BP) began tests Tuesday after placing a new containment cap over the leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Testing on the effectiveness of the seal could take as much as two days, though the firm can do without siphoning oil to surface-level ships if the cap works as expected. The stock gained 12 cents, or 0.3%, to $36.88. Also on the Nymex, the August natural gas contract shed 3 cents, or 0.8%, to settle at $4.35 per million British thermal units. August heating oil advanced by 6 cents, or 2.8%, to settle at $2.05 a gallon, and August gasoline futures gained 5 cents, or 2.7%, to settle at $2.08 a gallon. --Written by Sung Moss and Melinda Peer in New York.