The price of oil rose nearly 3 percent this week on expectations that U.S. drivers would hit the road and drive up demand for gasoline.
Benchmark crude for May delivery rose 34 cents Friday to close at $103.74 in New York. It ended last week at $101.14.
Brent crude, a benchmark for international crude, fell 13 cents to close at $107.33. Brent rose only 61 cents over the week on lower demand for crude in Europe and South Korea, according to energy analyst Jim Ritterbusch.
The University of Michigan reported Friday that its preliminary index of consumer sentiment for April rose to its highest level since July. That suggests U.S. consumers are feeling good about the economy and it could lead to higher gasoline demand as families head out to shop and travel.
They will be paying more at the pump, however. The national average retail price rose a penny to $3.62 per gallon, the highest level since August, according to AAA, OPIS and Wright Express. The average has risen 13 cents a gallon over the last month and is 6 cents per gallon higher than it was a year ago.
In other energy futures trading in New York:
- Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to close at $3.01 a gallon.
- Heating oil fell 1 cent to $2.933 a gallon.
- Natural gas fell 3.5 cents to close at $4.62 per 1,000 cubic feet.