NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Crude oil futures prices ended slightly higher, buoyed by weakness in the dollar and news of shutdowns in some refining units.

Light, sweet crude oil for November delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange settled up 46 cents a barrel at $70.41 a barrel, after moving in a range of $68.05-$71.00 a barrel.

The oil market "was really looking negative this morning," when it sold down to a low of $68.05 a barrel, said Tom Bentz, broker and analyst at BNP Paribas in New York. But when that low held, "we exhausted the selling as the dollar turned weaker and the equities were rallying.

"Every time we get too far away from $70," prices have recovered, he said, noting prices continue to hold in the range from mid-July of $65-$75 a barrel.

News that some Nigerian rebels in the Delta oil-producing region had agreed to a government ceasefire spurred early selling, as it raised the possibility of increased crude oil flows into an already saturated market. Still, analysts said, it was far from certain that the latest peace initiative in the region would hold. Nigeria is the fifth-biggest crude oil supplier to the U.S., accounting for about 9% of imports.

Traders said news of some shutdowns and snags at U.S. refineries also supported prices, even as inventories of all major products remain above five-year average levels in the world's biggest energy consumer.

ExxonMobil Corp. (XOM) said two unspecified units were shut at its Torrance, Calif., refinery, amid reports that a gasoline unit at the company's Baton Rouge, La. refinery was closed late last week due to an operating snag. Valero Energy Corp. (VLO) said Monday it was shutting a coker and a related unit at its Delaware City, Del., plant.

The refinery news comes as analysts expect U.S. weekly oil inventory data to show a slowdown in operations at oil processing plants in the week ended Oct. 2.

Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires expect data due Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. ET from the Energy Information Administration to show that refineries slow operations relative to capacity by 0.6 percentage point from 84.6% a week earlier.

Crude oil stocks, now 11.4% above adjusted year-earlier levels, are expected to have risen by 1.3 million barrels in the latest week, with distillate stocks (diesel/heating oil), adding to 400,000 barrels to the highest inventory level since January 1983. Gasoline stocks are expected to rise 1.2 million barrels in the latest week.

Nymex RBOB gasoline blendstocks futures for November delivery settled 1.3 cent higher at $1.7539 a gallon. November heating oil settled down 0.52 cent at $1.7916 a gallon.

More information on settlements and highs and lows for futures on Nymex and ICE platforms can be found by searching for the following headlines:


Nymex Light Crude Oil Close
Nymex Harbor RBOB Gasoline Close
Nymex Heating Oil Close
ICE Brent Crude Oil Close
ICE Gas Oil Close

-By David Bird, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2141; david.bird@dowjones.com