Crude Oil Jumps On U.S. Manufacturing Growth

The price of oil continued to rise after a Monday manufacturing report of U.S. factories showed growth.

Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) factory index jumped to 53.4% last month from 52.4% in February. 

Chinese manufacturing numbers also showed better than expected manufacturing expansion, reaching its best level in 12 months.

Benchmark U.S. crude increased on Monday by $ 1.61 to 104.63 a barrel while Brent crude rose by $1.55 to 124.43 a barrel.

The national gasoline average held at $3.925 per gallon, according to AAA.

Oil prices continue to rise due to a more expensive summer grade of crude oil coming online, strong economic data, and rising tensions with Iran in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia, Libya and Iraq are expected to help out by pumping more oil this year.

Economists believe that sustained high gas prices could slow discretionary spending levels in the overall U.S. economy. 

But some companies are benefiting from higher oil prices.

Ford Motor Co.’s Americas president Mark Fields says some Americans are buying  new cars because of higher fuel prices.

“Higher gas prices is spurring people to buy vehicles because they want vehicles  that get better fuel economy,” Fields said.

Some analysts claim that unseasonably warm U.S. weather last month drew out more American car shoppers and lower interest rates provided incentives for Americans to justify upgrading their old cars.

In February, auto sales rose to their highest level in four years.

March auto sales will be announced today at 2:00 p.m. EST. 

Expectations are high that auto sales for March will show continued growth.

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