Oil prices rise to almost $62 and OPEC president says it's not too high

Crude oil futures rose Wednesday in spite of U.S. government data that showed growing supplies, and the president of OPEC said he sees no problem with prices above $60 a barrel so long as the global economy continues to grow.

"A fair price is what the market can sustain," Edmund Daukoru, the Nigerian oil minister and the president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries told The Associated Press.

However, when prices approach $70 a barrel "everybody gets nervous," said Daukoru, who is in Washington this week to meet with U.S. administration officials.

Daukoru declined to speculate on whether the cartel would curtail production at its March 8 meeting in Vienna, but said he was concerned about an "overhang" of supply.

On Wednesday, light sweet crude for April delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 56 cents to settle at $61.97 a barrel.

In its weekly supply report, the U.S. Department of Energy said domestic oil inventories grew by 1.6 million barrels last week to 328.3 million barrels, or 9 percent above year ago levels. Gasoline inventories rose a modest 300,000 barrels to 225.9 million barrels, putting them marginally above year ago levels.

The nation's supply of distillate fuel, which includes diesel and heating oil, declined by 1.5 million barrels to 134.1 million barrels, or 14 percent higher than a year ago.

"Overall, the numbers were somewhat neutral, so we continued with the trend from this morning, which was upward," said Tom Bentz, an analyst at BNP Paribas Commodity Futures in New York.

Nymex gasoline futures for April delivery rose 3.17 cents to finish at $1.6224 per gallon, while heating oil futures climbed by 2.42 cents to $1.7466 a gallon. Natural gas gained 1.9 cent to close at $6.733 per 1,000 cubic feet, reports AP.


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