Crude oil futures topped $100 a barrel on Tuesday after consumer confidence in the US shot up and amid investor relief that Italy completed a bond auction.
Ultimately, however, oil failed to settle above $100 a barrel, continuing a pattern of reaching the psychologically important mark during trading but failing to carry it to the close.
Light, sweet crude for January delivery advanced $1.58, or 1.6 percent, to $99.79 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract traded as high as $100.15 a barrel, according to FactSet Research, as gains accelerated in the last hour of trading.
Investors were responding "to the minor victories of the day," said Tim Evans, an analyst with Citi Futures Perspective, in a note to clients.
"The appetite for risk remains easily stimulated by any success over what are very low benchmarks," he said. "Nowhere was this more evident than in the reaction to the Italian bond auction, with success defined by bids that totaled 1.5 times" the bonds on offer, he said.