03/26/2013 09:01 EDT | Updated 05/26/2013 05:12 EDT

Oil near $96 a barrel as US durable goods data reflect improving economy

The price of oil climbed to near US$96 a barrel Tuesday after fresh data from the U.S. suggested the world's largest economy keeps recovering.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark crude for May delivery was up 90 cents to US$95.71 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.10 on Monday.

The U.S. Commerce Department said that orders for factory produced durable goods — items expected to last at least three years — rose by 5.7 per cent in February over the previous month. That beat consensus forecasts of 3.7 per cent growth after a 4.9 per cent drop in January.

Nymex "oil prices continue to be the shining star of the energy complex and it has been a long time coming," said the Kilduff Report edited by Michael Fitzpatrick.

"The recovering U.S. economy is the key to this support. More gains are in store ... as durable goods orders and data on the state of the U.S. housing market should evidence even more improvement" for the U.S economy.

Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by U.S. refineries, was up 27 cents to US$108.44 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex, wholesale gasoline rose 2.01 cents to US$3.0743 a U.S. gallon (3.79 litres), heating oil added 1.01 cents to US$2.9931 a gallon and natural gas advanced 2.6 cents to US$3.891 per 1,000 cubic feet.