Oil market stages slight rebound after sharp slump

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World oil prices rebounded gently on Friday from recent heavy losses, with New York crude breaching $100 as traders took their direction from the weaker dollar, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for June, rose seven cents to $99.04, having earlier leapt as high as $100.70 a barrel.

London's Brent North Sea crude for delivery in June added 65 cents to $113.63 per barrel in late afternoon London deals.

"Oil prices rebounded strongly on the US dollar weakness, as stronger than expected GDP data from Germany, France and (the) eurozone provided some support to the euro and pushed the US dollar lower," said Sucden analyst Myrto Sokou.

A struggling greenback tends to boost dollar-priced crude oil because it becomes cheaper for buyers using weaker currencies. That tends to stimulate demand and prices.

The euro briefly soared as high as $1.4340 in morning deals as investors were comforted by stronger-than-expected European economic growth data, before paring gains in the afternoon.

Economic growth across the eurozone more than doubled to 0.8 percent in the first quarter of 2011 from output in the last three months of last year, led by Germany.

The flash estimate released by the European Union's data agency on Friday showed accelerating growth from 0.3 percent in the previous quarter, and compared favourably with US growth of 0.4 percent quarter-on-quarter.

Germany led the way, expanding by a quarterly 1.5 percent to a level last seen before the economic crisis in 2008, provisional data showed.

This week, the global oil market experienced volatile swings as traders fretted over concerns that high price levels could erode crude demand.

On Monday, oil started on the front foot, gaining as dealers snapped up bargain crude after a large drop the previous week.

Prices carried on climbing on Tuesday, encouraged by strong trade numbers from China that showed its economy still growing strongly.

However, the market hit reverse gear on Wednesday amid signs of slowing demand in the United States and China, and a rise in the dollar.

The US Department of Energy's latest weekly inventories report showed another increase in crude stocks and an unexpected rise in gasoline reserves in the world's largest oil-consuming nation.

Meanwhile, the OPEC cartel held unchanged its forecast for world oil demand growth this year, saying rising consumption in China would make up for the uncertain outlook in the United States and in quake-hit Japan.

But on Thursday, the International Energy Agency cut its outlook for 2011 global oil demand growth by 190,000 barrels per day because of high oil prices and weaker recovery in rich countries.

The IEA said it had trimmed its 2011 forecast for global oil demand growth due to "persistent high prices and weaker IMF GDP projections for advanced economies." It put total demand at 89.2 million barrels per day.

There were also concerns over oil demand in China, the world's biggest energy consumer, as Beijing ramped up efforts to tame inflationary pressure in the world's second biggest economy.


© 2011 AFP

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