West Texas Intermediate crude advanced to the highest level in almost five weeks as U.S. orders for durable goods climbed more than forecast in February. WTI’s discount to Brent was the narrowest since July.
Futures gained for a third day after the Commerce Department said bookings for goods meant to last at least three years rose 5.7 percent, the most since September and more than the 3.9 percent forecast by economists surveyed by Bloomberg. The spread between WTI and Brent, Europe’s benchmark, has shrunk as U.S. refinery demand and North Sea output have increased.
“The durable goods number is higher than expected and it shows the U.S. economy is on good footing,” said Tariq Zahir, a New York-based commodity fund manager at Tyche Capital Advisors. “You are continuing to see the Brent-WTI spread contract massively. It looks like the U.S. economy is doing better than Europe.”
WTI for May delivery climbed 69 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $95.50 a barrel at 9:49 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange after rising to $95.88, the strongest intraday level since Feb. 20. Prices are up 4 percent in 2013. The volume of all futures traded was 3.5 percent above the 100-day average for the time of day.
Brent for May settlement rose 22 cents to $108.39 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The volume of all futures traded was 26 percent above the 100-day average. Futures have fallen 2.4 percent in 2013. The European benchmark crude’s premium to WTI narrowed to as low as $12.59, the least since July 5.