The price of oil rose above $97 a barrel Monday, lifted by new signals that Europe's economy is on the mend and by the ongoing closure of export terminals in Libya.
Benchmark U.S. crude for January delivery rose 88 cents to $97.48 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark used to price international oil used by many U.S. refineries, closed at $110.47.
The average retail price of a gallon of gasoline fell less than a penny to $3.23 per gallon, three cents higher than a month ago and three cents lower than a year ago.
In Europe, business sentiment is rising for the first time in three months, according to a survey of the 17-country eurozone. The monthly purchasing managers' index for the eurozone from financial information company Markit rose to 52.1 in December from 51.7 in November, after two consecutive months of declines. Anything above 50 indicates expansion, which would typically translate into higher demand for crude.
At the same time, Libyan oil terminals that were expected to open last weekend remained shut, reducing expected supplies. A militia from eastern Libya controlling the export hubs said the central government in Tripoli had failed to meet its demands, mainly a share of oil revenues.