Oil prices bounded higher Monday, continuing last week's four-day rally thanks to Vice President George Bush's trip to the Middle East and a strike by oil rig caterers in Norway.
Most heating oil and gasoline futures advanced by the expanded limit of 3 cents a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude oil for delivery in May was $1.59 a barrel higher and settled at its highest level since late in February. Most analysts put the emphasis on the strike in Norway. However, said analyst Charles T. Maxwell of Cyrus J. Lawrence Inc. in New York, "Norway has the means to intervene and stop the strike."
"They were just looking for a good excuse to shut those fields," he said, which would serve the dual purpose of giving the unions a slap and holding back production while prices are so low.
Also, said Ed Dellamonte, an analyst in New York with Prudential Bache Securities, "all the traders, both in the cash and futures markets, really believe Bush is going to accomplish something." Bush has been making the rounds among major oil producers in the Middle East, amid disclaimers by both himself and the White House that he is working toward limiting production and raising the price of crude.