Oil May Rise on Stronger Economic Growth, Survey Shows

Oil may rise next week on speculation that stronger economic growth will boost fuel demand, a Bloomberg survey showed.

Fourteen of 24 analysts, or 58 percent, forecast crude will rise through Jan. 11. Five respondents, or 21 percent, predicted a drop. Five said there would be little change. Last week, 50 percent of analysts projected a gain.

The U.S. unemployment rate held at 7.8 percent in December, matching the lowest level since December 2008, the Labor Department said today. Payrolls rose by 155,000 workers following a revised 161,000 advance in November that was more than initially estimated. U.S. consumer sentiment climbed last week as the jobs market improved, the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index showed yesterday.

“Economic data is solid, and we are going to see demand continue to tick up,” said Bill Baruch, a senior market strategist at Iitrader.com in Chicago. “If prices get to $95, oil is going to gain more momentum.”

U.S. gasoline consumption averaged 8.56 million barrels a day in the four weeks ended Dec. 28, up 0.5 percent from the previous week, according to an Energy Department report today.

Budget Legislation

President Barack Obama signed a budget measure into law Jan. 2 to undo $600 billion in automatic tax increases and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff. Republicans immediately turned to their next battle -- a bid to use the need to raise the nation’s $16.4 trillion debt ceiling to force Obama to accept cuts in entitlement programs such as Medicare.

“We still have the debt ceiling ahead of us but it’s hopeful that Congress will find a solution,” Baruch said.

Oil rose $2.29, or 2.5 percent, to $93.09 a barrel this week on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The market was closed Jan. 1 for New Year’s Day.

The oil survey has correctly predicted the direction of futures 49 percent of the time since its start in April 2004.

     Bloomberg’s survey of oil analysts and traders, conducted
each Thursday, asks for an assessment of whether crude oil
futures are likely to rise, fall or remain neutral in the coming
week. The results were:

                    RISE      NEUTRAL    FALL
                     14          5         5
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