NEW YORK (AP) — Oil had its biggest daily gain since December, as oil supplies rose less than expected in the U.S. and speculation grew that the European Central Bank will cut interest rates.
Benchmark oil for June delivery rose $2.25, or 2.5 percent, to finish at $91.43 a barrel Wednesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Oil rose as expectations mounted among investors for a rate cut next week from the ECB following another weak business survey in Germany, Europe's biggest economy. The gains grew after the U.S. Energy Department said crude oil supplies rose by 900,000 barrels, or 0.2 percent, to 388.6 million barrels last week. Analysts expected an increase of 1.4 million barrels.
In addition, the dollar was weaker against the euro, which helped push oil higher. Oil is traded in dollars, so it becomes more attractive to investors with foreign currency as the dollar softens.
A big decline in gasoline supplies was also positive for oil prices, indicating that demand picked up somewhat, although it was still down 1.7 percent over the four weeks ended April 19.
At the pump, the national average for a gallon of gasoline held steady at $3.52. That's 33 cents cheaper than a year ago.
Brent crude, which is used to price oil used by many U.S. refiners, rose $1.42 to end at $101.73 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:
— Gasoline rose 3 cents to finish at $2.75 per gallon.
— Heating oil added 3 cents to end at $2.84 a gallon.
— Natural gas fell 7 cents to finish at $4.17 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Pamela Sampson in Bangkok and Pablo Gorondi in Budapest contributed to this report.