Oil Adds 1 Pct On Euro Zone Hopes, Tight Supply
M. East tensions, North Sea supply crunch support prices; U.S. crude inventories rose 100,000 bbls last week
August 22, 2012 5:44 by Reuters
Oil rose more than 1 percent on Tuesday as hopes that the European Central Bank will act to contain the region’s debt crisis boosted crude futures and sent U.S. equities to a four-year high and the euro to a seven-week peak versus the dollar.
Investor optimism that the ECB could take action to ease Spanish and Italian borrowing costs remained, even though on Monday the central bank sought to quell speculation contained in a report suggesting it was considering buying bonds of euro zone countries if their borrowing costs breached a certain level.
U.S. front-month September crude futures hit a three-month high above $97 a barrel, with the contract set to expire at the end of the session.
An upcoming maintenance-related North Sea oil production slide and heightened tensions in the Middle East as violence in Syria continues and Iran’s dispute with the West over Tehran’s nuclear program added to the lift for oil prices.
Brent’s sensitivity to North Sea production curbs and the Middle East turmoil has kept front-month contracts priced above months further out, or in backwardation, and provided the lift to bring prices back well above $100 a barrel after settling at $89.23 on June 21.
On Tuesday, Brent October crude rose $1.49 to $115.19 at 11:12 a.m. EDT (1512 GMT), having reached $115.58.
Brent hit a three-month peak at $117.03 last Thursday as its September contract headed to expiration and went off the board at $116.90 a barrel, the highest settlement since May 2.
U.S. September crude was up $1.28 a barrel at $97.25, having hit $97.60, the highest price since front-month crude reached $97.69 intraday on May 10.
U.S. October crude rose $1.28 to $97.54 a barrel.
U.S. gasoline and heating oil also rallied more than 1 percent, adding more than 4 cents.
Price strength for U.S. oil futures also came from concerns about tropical weather threats, with Tropical Depression Nine headed west toward the Caribbean and another low pressure system in the Atlantic expected to become a tropical cyclone in the next two days, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
(Additional reporting by Simon Falush in London and Ramya Venugopal and Elizabeth Law in Singapore; Editing by Marguerita Choy)