Oil rebounds after choppy trading

By Ben Rooney, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Oil prices rose Monday for the first time in four days as investors looked ahead to the Federal Reserve's meeting on interest rate policy this week.

What prices are doing. Light, sweet crude for March delivery climbed 72 cents to settle at $75.26 a barrel after dipping as low as $74.06 earlier.

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Click the chart for current oil prices.

What's moving the market. The gain comes after oil prices sank 5% last week, hitting a 4-week low Friday, on the Obama Administration's proposed banking regulations.

The regulations, which would limit certain trading activities at some of the largest U.S. banks, rattled investors on Wall Street. But stocks opened higher Friday, recovering from one of the worst weeks in nearly a year.

Oil prices were also pressured last week by speculation that Chinese policy makers will take further steps to cool the nation's robust economic growth.

This week, traders said the market will focus on the Federal Reserve, which kicks off a two-day policy meeting Tuesday. The Fed is widely expected to vote to hold interest rates steady at historic lows near 0%.

The meeting comes amid some uncertainty about Ben Bernanke's appointment to a second term as chairman of the central bank. If the Senate does not confirm Bernanke by Jan. 31, Vice Chair Donald Kohn will become acting Fed chairman until another nominee is confirmed.

In addition to the Fed meeting, the week brings a preliminary reading on fourth-quarter GDP growth, President Barack Obama's State of the Union address and profit reports from a host of major U.S. companies.

Meanwhile, the market continues to grapple with concerns about the credit of Greece and other struggling European economies.

What analysts are saying. Oil prices could fall below $73 this week, according to Tom Pawlicki, an energy analyst at MF Global in Chicago.

"Pressure will come from ongoing fallout from Thursday's bank regulation plan, worries over Fed Bernanke's confirmation [and] tighter monetary policy in China," Pawlicki wrote in a research report.  To top of page

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