West Texas Intermediate traded near its highest in five weeks and was set for a quarterly gain after U.S. government data showed refineries raised operating rates.
Futures rose as much as 0.4 percent in New York and have gained 5.2 percent in the past three months. Refineries ran at 85.7 percent of capacity last week, up 2.2 percentage points from the prior week and the most since January, figures from the Energy Department showed yesterday. U.S. crude stockpiles increased 3.3 million barrels, according to the report. They were forecast to gain 1.33 million barrels, an earlier Bloomberg News survey showed.
“Fundamentals remain well-balanced,” said Michael Poulsen, an analyst at Global Risk Management in Middelfart, Denmark. “Global oil demand remains near all-time highs.”
WTI for May delivery traded 20 cents higher at $96.78 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 10:50 a.m. London time, having earlier climbed as much as 36 cents to $96.94 a barrel. The volume of all futures traded was 43 percent below the 100-day average. The contract rose 0.3 percent yesterday to $96.58, the highest close since Feb. 19. Prices are set for their fourth weekly gain and are 5.1 percent higher this month.
Brent for May settlement was at $109.85 a barrel, up 16 cents, on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The volume of all contracts traded was 25 percent below the 100-day average. The European benchmark grade was at a premium of $13.11 to WTI. It settled at $13.02 on March 26, the narrowest closing level since July.
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