04/02/2013 05:47 EDT | Updated 06/02/2013 05:12 EDT

Oil price tracks stock market higher as traders await supply data

NEW YORK, N.Y. - The price of oil rose slightly Tuesday as traders waited for the latest data on U.S. supplies.

Benchmark oil for May delivery gained 12 cents to finish at US$97.19 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Oil dropped below $96 in the morning, but recovered as U.S. stock markets rose, buoyed by strong reports on U.S. auto sales and factory orders.

The market will be watching for the latest reports on supplies of oil and petroleum products. The American Petroleum Institute, a trade group, releases its latest weekly figures later Tuesday. The U.S. Energy Department issues its latest inventory report Wednesday afternoon.

Analysts expect oil supplies rose by 2.5 million barrels last week, according to Platts. Supplies are already more than nine per cent above year-ago levels.

At the gas pump in the U.S., the average price for a gallon of gasoline edged up to $3.64 a gallon.

Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by U.S. refineries, was up 67 cents to end at $110.69 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline fell six cents to finish at $3.04 a gallon.

— Heating oil rose two cents to end at $3.09 a gallon.

— Natural gas dropped five cents to $3.97 per 1,000 cubic feet.