U.S. oil jumps 10 percent on stimulus hopes

NEW YORK Fri Feb 13, 2009 3:28pm EST

Traders work in the crude oil futures trading pit at the New York Mercantile Exchange, February 12, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Traders work in the crude oil futures trading pit at the New York Mercantile Exchange, February 12, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Segar

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. oil jumped 10 percent on Friday on hopes the U.S. economic stimulus package could help pull the economy out of a 14-month recession.

The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday approved the $787 billion package of spending and tax cuts and the Senate was expected to vote on the plan later in the day.

"It looks like a bounce on stimulus hopes," said Tom Bentz, analyst at BNP Paribas Commodity Futures.

U.S. crude for March delivery rose $3.53 to settle at $37.51 a barrel. London Brent crude for April settled down $1.22 to $44.81 a barrel.

Further support came as traders booked profits by selling the spread between front and second month futures contracts, analysts said. U.S. crude for April delivery eased 20 cents at its settlement to $41.97.

"Those that were short March and long April are reversing that, taking profits and getting out of that spread play before the long weekend. And (March) options are expiring on Tuesday after the holiday," said Phil Flynn, analyst at Alaron Trading in Chicago.

Oil prices have tumbled from their peak over $147 a barrel last year as the economic downturn has spread to all regions of the world, cutting energy consumption.

Producer group OPEC cut its forecast for world oil demand, adding to a wave of demand cuts made by other forecasters this year.

Making a possible case for further supply cuts, OPEC said in its monthly report that global demand would fall by 580,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2009 to average 85.13 million bpd.

The cartel agreed to a series of deep production cuts in the second half of 2008 to combat the slide in prices and demand. OPEC is next scheduled to meet in March, with some members calling for another reduction in supplies.

The International Energy Agency said that global markets are already tightening, and that any move by OPEC to further restrict supplies could send oil prices higher.

(Reporting by Matthew Robinson, Robert Gibbons, and Gene Ramos in New York; Christopher Johnson and David Sheppard in London and Fayen Wong in Perth; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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