prices firm ahead of US data
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[March 04, 2016]
By Sarah McFarlane
LONDON (Reuters) - Crude oil futures edged
up on Friday, building on the week's gains, as traders and analysts eyed
U.S. jobs data which could give further momentum to rising prices.
Brent futures rose 19 cents to $37.26 a barrel as of 1203 GMT (07:03
a.m. EST), after settling 14 cents higher in the previous session.
The crude benchmark is set to end the week with a gain of more than
U.S. crude futures traded up 13 cents to $34.70 a barrel, having
settled down 9 cents in the previous session.
While U.S. crude inventories rose to a new record of 517.98 million
barrels last week, output fell for a sixth straight week to 9.08
million barrels a day, according to the U.S. government's Energy
Cuts in U.S. production are providing price support, but investors
are also waiting for U.S. economic data later on Friday to give
"A lot of traders are keeping their powder dry in front of non-farm
payroll data - it's the No.1 (indicator) in terms of crude
consumers," said Ben Le Brun, market analyst at Sydney's
"Investors are a little more confident we've seen a bottom in oil
(prices)," he added. Le Brun is forecasting oil prices will hover
around $40 by the middle of this year.
Positive numbers for February payrolls and U.S. jobs data, both due
at 1330 GMT (06:30 a.m. EST) on Friday, could give impetus for a
further recovery in oil prices, analysts said.
"If we get a decent number this should also improve the demand
outlook for the United States, still the largest oil consumer in the
world," Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch said.
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Rising oil prices are helping steer Asian shares toward their
strongest week in five months, as global investors returned to
riskier assets after a string of positive U.S. economic data.
The combination of expected further cuts in U.S. output in the
coming months and a brightening demand outlook is also underpinning
"Most support comes from the supply side but also the demand side
seems to improve," Fritsch said, pointing to Saudi Arabia raising
its April selling prices for Asian customers and potential for
Chinese oil demand to surprise to the upside.
Meetings between oil producers are expected to take place in March
to discuss potential coordinated action although no decision on the
date or venue of a possible meeting between OPEC and non-OPEC
producers has been made yet.
(Additional reporting by Keith Wallis in Singapore; Editing by Dale
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