Crude oil prices have climbed $8 per barrel this month as traders have anticipated the U.S., China and Europe would take action to spur their respective economies.
On Wednesday the Federal Reserve released minutes from its July 31-Aug. 1 policy meeting that suggest new steps to boost the U.S. economy are likely.
"Many members judged that additional monetary accommodation would likely be warranted fairly soon unless incoming information pointed to a substantial and sustainable strengthening in the pace of the economic recovery," the Fed minutes said.
Benchmark crude oil increased 42 cents per barrel Wednesday to close at $97.26 per barrel. Brent crude oil, traded in London, rose 27 cents per barrel to close at $114.91 per barrel. Slower growth cuts into the demand for oil and energy products, so government action to stimulate the economy is seen as bullish for oil prices.
Traders and market analysts believe the Federal Reserve is leaning toward a third round of large bond purchasing known as quantitative easing , or QE3. Analysts will be closely watching Fed chief Ben Bernanke’s speech next in Jackson Hole, Wyo., for clues to action the Fed may take in coming weeks.
Average retail gasoline prices are up two cents this week to $3.74 per gallon. That’s 16 cents per gallon higher than the same time last year.
Average U.S. diesel prices climbed 6 cents a gallon to reach $4.02. That’s 21 cents per gallon higher than one year ago.