05/12/13 - 21h00US oil futures rally after upbeat data, Brent dips
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05/12/13 - 05h21Oil prices mixed amid Middle East oversupply concerns
US oil futures rally after upbeat data, Brent dips
US oil futures prices rose Thursday, extending a winning streak to five days, after better-than-expected data on US economic growth and unemployment, while Brent dipped.
New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in January, rose 18 cents to settle at $97.38 a barrel.
In London trade, the European benchmark, Brent North Sea crude for January, finished at $110.98 a barrel, down 90 cents from Wednesday's close.
"US good economic news is certainly a benefactor to the market today," said Michael Lynch of Strategic Energy and Economic Research.
The Commerce Department revised sharply higher US economic growth in the third quarter, to an annual rate of 3.6 percent from an initial estimate of 2.8 percent.
And first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell below 300,000 last week, although the Labor Department data could be affected by the Thanksgiving Day holiday last Thursday.
The upbeat numbers stoked hopes in the oil market for greater demand in the world's largest consumer of crude oil.
"The most interesting thing, though, is that the differential (between WTI and Brent) is continuing to narrow," Lynch said. After widening to nearly $20 last week, on Thursday the gap was below $14.
The rebound in WTI this week was mainly due to Monday's announcement that part of the Keystone pipeline would open in January, bringing oil from Cushing, Oklahoma, to Texas refineries along the Gulf of Mexico.
The government reported Wednesday an unexpected drop in US crude-oil inventories last week, the first decline since mid-September.
Traders, meanwhile, worried about a potential oversupply in Middle Eastern crude, which could push down prices along with rising US shale oil production.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries on Wednesday agreed to keep its production ceiling unchanged at 30 million barrels a day.
However, pledges by its members Iraq and Iran to boost output in 2014 raised concerns about potential oversupply, especially if Libyan oil production is restored and US shale oil output continues to increase.
"Unless oil production is scaled back in the other OPEC countries, there will then be a risk of oversupply and sliding prices," said Commerzbank analysts in a note to clients.