Oil touched a high for this year above $73 a barrel on Friday ahead of further pointers on the economic health of the United States and as the dollar flagged against a stronger euro.
By 1104 GMT (7:04 a.m. EDT), the new front month U.S. crude futures contract for October delivery was up 72 cents at $73.63 a barrel, its highest price in 2009. London Brent crude for October was up 71 cents at $74.04.
Oil is on track for a 7.3 percent gain this week, and was last at this level on October 21, 2008 when it closed at $75.22 a barrel on its way down from a record peak above $147.
Overall it's a relatively quiet market, with the dollar slightly weaker against the euro. Combined with slightly higher stock markets, that is partly why commodity prices are fairly stable right now, said broker Tony Machacek at Bache Commodities.
The market will scour Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech before the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Economic Symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming at 1400 GMT (10:00 a.m. EDT) on Friday for more clues on the health of the world's largest economy.
The U.S. National Association of Realtors will also release existing home sales for July at 1400 GMT (10:00 a.m. EDT). Economists forecast a total of 5.00 million annualized units versus 4.89 million in June.
As yet, there were few signs of recovering U.S. fuel demand. Freight traffic across North America fell 17.9 percent in the week ended August 15 from the same 2008 week, a trade group said on Thursday in a weekly report.
Tighter regulation of the energy market may take the edge of high prices, Commerzbank said in note on Thursday.
The significant rise in the oil price in the first half of the year is due in large part to a recovery in investment by financial investors, analyst Eugen Weinberg at Commerzbank wrote in their Commodities Spotlight Energy newsletter.
If their influence is reduced by the (Commodity Futures Trading Commission's) actions and sanity prevails, the oil price will fall.
The CFTC is widely expected to introduce stricter position limits for non-physical investors in commodities before the end of 2009.
(Additional reporting by Jennifer Tan in Singapore)