Crude oil rose more than 3 percent Wednesday as the progress in U.S. auto bailout plan and speculation of severe OPEC output cut offset a larger-than- expected increase in U.S. gasoline inventory.
Light, sweet crude for January delivery climbed 1.45 U.S. dollars to settle at 43.52 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The price fluctuated wildly during the trading, moving between 46.17 dollars and 41.89 dollars.
Crude futures dropped in the morning session after a government report showed a bigger-than-expected buildup in the U.S. gasoline supply. The U.S. Energy Department reported that crude inventory increased by 400,000 barrels last week, below the 2.7 million barrels predicted by many analysts. But gasoline stockpiles gained 3.8 million barrels, which is much higher than the 1.4 million barrels the market had forecasted.
Oil prices rebounded from the day's low and rallied after the White House and U.S. Congressional Democrats reached agreement on a rescue plan of major U.S. automakers Wednesday. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she plans to have a vote on the auto bill Wednesday in the house, where Democrats have a large enough majority to make the passage likely. Investors are hoping that the recovery of the auto industry would help revive the demand for energy.
The speculation that OPEC would take a deeper production cut also contributed to oil's rally. Analysts predict that the oil cartel could cut output from 2 million to 3 million barrels a day. But there is still doubt on how OPEC can meet another production cut when it has not fully complied with the previous one in October.
In London, Brent crude for January delivery rose 87 cents to settle at 42.40 dollars a barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange.