Oil up on U.S. data, North Sea outlook, stimulus hopes

Thu Aug 9, 2012 4:58pm EDT
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By Gene Ramos

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil futures rose on Thursday, with Brent gaining for the fifth straight session, lifted by stronger-than-expected economic data from the United States, a lower outlook for North Sea Brent production and persistent hopes for economic stimulus.

Prices drew early support from worries that Tropical Storm Ernesto could disrupt supplies, but the storm weakened and skirted the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, which briefly pushed U.S. crude prices into negative territory.

U.S. crude recovered and settled a penny higher, while Brent crude held gains, supported by nagging worries over North Sea supply, analysts said.

In London, Brent crude for September delivery closed $1.08 higher at $113.22 a barrel, the highest settlement for front-month Brent since May 3. The session high was $113.43.

"The general mood is bullish - any dip is still being used as a buying opportunity," said Carsten Fritsch, an energy analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

"Given the supply risk, with falling North Sea output and the closure of three oil ports in Mexico, all this should lend support to prices," he added.

U.S. September crude eked out a 1 cent gain to settle at $93.36.

"Technically, (U.S.) crude oil is bullish short-term," said Rich Alexander, senior broker at Zaner Group in Chicago.   Continued...

An attendant prepares to refuel a car at a petrol station in Rome January 4, 2012. REUTERS/Max Rossi