US oil trades higher; Brent at $111.44
December 07, 2013 - 7:29:41 am
NEW YORK: US oil traded higher in choppy trade yesterday, still on track for its biggest weekly percentage gain since July, supported by the outlook for increased demand after strong jobs data from the United States, the world’s top oil consumer.
US crude initially fell on the jobs report, then rose, and by the afternoon was still choppy. Oil last traded up 29 cents at $97.67 a barrel at 12:51 p.m. EST (1751 GMT). The contract was headed for a 5.4 percent gain this week, its largest weekly percentage gain since July 5.
Prices were boosted after Transcanada Corp said the Keystone pipeline would be in service by next month to deliver crude from U.S. storage hub Cushing, Oklahoma, to refining markets.
Brent rose by more than $1 per barrel to a session high of $112.06 before easing to $111.44.
Brent’s $1 rise fueled US RBOB petrol prices, which jumped to a two-week high of $2.7545 per gallon. The contract rose on Friday afternoon, trading 1.9 cents higher at $2.7316, after news of an upset at Valero’s Port Arthur, Texas, refinery.
While the jobs data supported hopes of a recovering economy and stronger oil demand, the prospect of the Fed action weighed heavy on commodity markets.
US oil’s rally over the past week has caused Brent’s premium to the US benchmark to narrow by $5 to $13.43 per barrel after the spread reached its highest since March last week. Weather-related production outages also supported prices, analysts said.
North Sea oil producers cut output and moved staff from some platforms as a major storm blasted toward mainland Europe in what meteorologists warned could be the worst weather to hit the continent in years. Cold weather also dented oil and gas production in the United States and could further crimp output in top crude-producing states, such as Texas and North Dakota.