NEW YORK (AP) -- Oil regained some of its loss from the day earlier, while pump prices are now up nearly a quarter since Jan. 1.

Benchmark oil for March delivery rose 67 cents to $96.84 a barrel in midday trading Tuesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil dropped by $1.60 to finish at $96.17 a barrel on Monday.

Data published Tuesday showing rising activity in the manufacturing and services sectors in the 17 European Union countries using the euro supported oil prices. A U.S. report also showed the services sector continues to expand.

Recovering stock markets also buoyed oil. Most European markets rose, and U.S. stock markets are showing gains of close to 1 percent.

Pulling into the corner gas station cost more again Tuesday. The average price for a gallon of gas rose a penny overnight to $3.53. The price has jumped 17 cents in the past week and 24 cents since the first day of the year.

On Monday, the Energy Department reported that U.S. drivers spent 4 percent of their pre-tax income on gasoline last year, the second highest percentage in thirty years.

Brent crude, the benchmark used to set prices for oil used by many U.S. refineries, was up $1.37 to $116.97 in London.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

  • Wholesale gasoline added 3 cents to $3.05 per gallon.
  • Natural gas rose 3 cents to $3.35 per 1,000 cubic feet.
  • Heating oil gained 5 cents to $3.20 a gallon.

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