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Wed 25 Feb 2009 02:22 AM

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Crude oil futures recover after recent losses

US crude oil futures add 4% on Tuesday as Dow stages rebound from 12-year low.

US crude oil futures ended nearly 4 percent higher on Tuesday, aided by a rebound on Wall Street from a 12-year low on Monday.Traders also weighed stronger-than-expected OPEC compliance with its production cuts.

Prices were down earlier amid economic worries reflected in a report showing US consumer confidence hitting another record low in February.

Traders were awaiting US President Barack Obama's first speech to a joint session of Congress, at 9 p.m. EST (0200 GMT on Wednesday), where he was expected to set out his economic plans.

"I think crude is running up on two counts, hope that Obama's speech tonight will give us a glimmer of hope - I'm not too optimistic - and possible supportive APIs," said Nauman Barakat, senior vice president at Macquarie Futures USA in New York.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, April crude CLJ9 settled up $1.52, or 3.95 percent, at $39.96 a barrel, after trading from $37.65 to $40.13.

In London, April Brent LCOJ9 ended up $1.51, or 3.68 percent, at $42.50 a barrel, after trading from $40.43 to $42.60.

NYMEX March RBOB RBH9 settled up 4.04 cents, or 3.87 percent at $1.0837 a gallon, after trading from $1.0394 to $1.1024.

NYMEX March heating oil HOH9 ended up 3.28 cents, or 2.79 percent, at $1.2082 a gallon, trading from $1.1624 to $1.2183.

March refined products contracts expire on Friday.

The spread between the current front month and the five-year forward crude contract CLc61 narrowed to $28.66, from $29.61 at the close on Monday. The April 2014 contract settled at $68.61, up 57 cents, or 0.84 percent.

Meanwhile, US crude oil stockpiles rose 341,000 barrels last week, according to the American Petroleum Institute's report issued on Tuesday - short of analyst expectations for over a 1-million-barrel build.

The small build in the week ended Feb. 20 came alongside a 68,000-barrel per day uptick in imports and a 0.3 percentage point decline in refinery utilization rates, according to the report.

Distillate stockpiles, meanwhile, rose 1.8 million barrels while gasoline inventories slipped 898,000 barrels, according to the report.

Analysts had forecast a decline in distillate stocks of 1.3 million barrels and a decline in gasoline stocks of 100,000 barrels, according to a Reuters poll.

Oil prices CLc1 traded up $1.54 to $39.98 a barrel after the report, adding 2 cents to their settlement.

The API report comes ahead of Wednesday's data from the US Energy Information Administration, which many analysts consider more reliable because oil companies are required to respond to the EIA's survey.  (Reuters)

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