"SINGAPORE — Oil prices hovered above $82 a barrel Friday in Asia as investors mulled whether extending a monthlong rally is justified amid evidence of weak U.S. crude demand.
Benchmark crude for April delivery was up 23 cents to $82.34 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 2 cents to settle at $82.11 on Thursday.
Crude has jumped 18 percent from $69.59 a barrel on Feb. 5 as economic data pointed to slow but steady U.S. economic growth. However, high crude inventories belie a rosy economic outlook, and suggest consumer spending remains sluggish.
""We are still having much difficulty in constructing a bullish fundamental case,"" Ritterbusch and Associates said in a report. ""We expect the crude stock build to continue well into the spring period.""
In other Nymex trading in April contracts, heating oil rose 0.67 cent to $2.1217 a gallon, and gasoline gained 0.3 cents to $2.2777 a gallon. Natural gas jum