Oil rises 2 percent on North Sea delays, U.S. data
By Robert Gibbons
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices rose a second day on Monday, gaining 2 percent as loading delays for North Sea crude cargoes added to concerns about global supply disruptions and as supportive U.S. manufacturing data countered disappointing economic figures from Europe.
Crude futures extended gains on news that BP (BP.L: Quote) had shut in oil output at the Valhall platform last week for compressor maintenance and that, according to trade sources, the shutdown would delay loading of seven North Sea Ekofisk cargoes in April.
The Institute for Supply Management's index of U.S. factory activity rose to 53.4 in March from February's 52.4, topping economists' expectations and keeping the reading above 50, indicating expansion in the sector.
"Oil prices rose on the better-than-expected ISM manufacturing reading as the strength of the U.S. economy continues to offset deteriorating conditions in Europe and concerns over China's slowdown," said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC in New York.
Brent May crude rose $2.55 to settle at $125.43 a barrel, recovering back above the 30-day average at $124.25 after slumping to $121.70.
Brent gained 14.4 percent in the first quarter and reached its 2012 high of $128.40 on March 1.
U.S. May crude gained $2.21 to settle at $105.23 a barrel, having slipped to $102.06, but breaking its fall before threatening the 100-day moving average of $101.32. U.S. crude gained 4.2 percent in the first quarter.
Brent's premium to U.S. crude increased to $20.20 a barrel, based on contract settlements, after stretching to $20.56 intraday. Continued...