The gap between U.S. and global oil prices narrowed Wednesday on news that the U.S. government has allowed some exports of a form of ultralight oil, which some analysts say could lead to a broader relaxation of the country's export ban.
Light, sweet crude for August delivery rose as high as $107.50 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after The Wall Street Journal reported the news. Prices settled up 47 cents, or 0.4%, at $106.50 a barrel
Brent crude on the ICE Futures Europe exchange fell 46 cents, or 0.4%, to $114.00 a barrel.
In separate rulings that haven't been announced, the Commerce Department gave Pioneer Natural Resources Co.PXD -2.11% and Enterprise Products Partners EPD +0.47% LP permission to ship a type of ultralight oil known as condensate to foreign buyers. The buyers could turn the oil into gasoline, jet fuel and diesel.
The U.S. has had a ban on crude-oil exports since the 1970s, but producers have lobbied to lift the ban in recent months as U.S. production continues to grow.
News of the ruling raised some market watchers' expectations that the federal government is open to more broadly relaxing the export ban, allowing producers to sell U.S. oil at world prices, which are higher than U.S. prices.