NEW YORK (AP) -- The price of oil rose above $94 per barrel Monday as positive U.S. economic data added to optimism for a rate cut in Europe.

Benchmark crude for June delivery gained $1.50 to finish at $94.50 a barrel in New York. Oil hadn't finished above $94 since April 10.

The U.S. government said Americans spent more in March as their incomes went up. And pending home sales hit their highest level in three years. Traders also think the European Central Bank will cut its benchmark interest rate from the current record low of 0.75 percent to 0.50 percent, in a further attempt to turn around the economy there.

A weaker dollar also helped boost oil prices by making crude priced in dollars cheaper for traders using other currencies. On Monday, the euro was up to $1.3100 from $1.3065 late Friday in New York.

Drivers are still shelling out fewer dollars at the gas pump compared with a year ago. The national average for a gallon of regular is $3.50, compared with $3.82 on this date last year.

Brent crude, which is used to price oil from the North Sea used by many U.S. refiners, rose 65 cents to end at $103.81 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

  • Wholesale gasoline was up almost a cent to finish at $2.83 a gallon.
  • Heating oil was flat at $2.90 a gallon.
  • Natural gas added 17 cents to end at $4.39 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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