UPDATE 9-Oil up on Iran tension, Spain reform plans

Thu Sep 27, 2012 5:17pm EDT

Related Topics

* Israeli PM draws "red line" for Iran in U.N. speech

* U.S. gasoline futures hit highest since April

* Coming up: U.S. Oct fuel futures contracts expire Friday (Adds volume, analyst comment, detail)

By Adam Kerlin and Robert Gibbons

NEW YORK, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Oil prices rose on Thursday as tensions between Iran and the West reinforced concerns about potential supply disruptions, while Spain's plans for economic reform also lent support to crude and lifted equities on Wall Street.

U.S. gasoline futures rose to their highest since April, a day before the October contract expiration, supported by refinery maintenance and low inventory levels.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew his "red line" for Iran's nuclear program in a speech at the United Nations - the point at which Iran has amassed nearly enough highly enriched uranium for a single nuclear bomb - and voiced confidence the United States shares his view.

Comments from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that his country was capable of "neutralizing" all efforts to sabotage its nuclear facilities limited oil's losses on Wednesday and lent support in early Thursday trading.

"Nothing has improved in the relationship between Iran and Israel and there is unpleasantness throughout the Middle East," said David Morrison, an analyst at GFT Global. "The danger is that we have a nasty flare-up."

Crude futures and the euro received a boost and U.S. stocks rose, snapping a five-session string of losses, after Spanish Economic Minister Luis de Guindos said Spain's reform work was fully coordinated with the European Union's recommendations on budget control.

"When the Spain news hit, crude moved higher as did the stock market," said Mark Waggoner, president at Excel Futures.

The oil market has been buffeted by concerns about supply and the turmoil in the Middle East, offering support to prices, while factoring in concerns about slowing global economic growth.

Brent November crude rose $1.97 to settle at $112.01 a barrel. It reached the day's high of $112.50 in post-settlement trade.

Brent moved back above its 50-day moving average of $111.61, and settled one penny below its 200-day moving average of $112.02, technical levels closely watched by traders.

Snapping a string of three lower settlements, U.S. November crude rose $1.87 to settle at $91.85 a barrel, advancing above its 100-day moving average of $90.21. In post-settlement trade it hit the day's high of $92.39.

Brent's premium to U.S. crude CL-LCO1=R increased to $20.16, based on settlements. The spread moved above $20 on Wednesday for the first time since Aug. 16.

News of another delayed North Sea Forties crude cargo lent support, but traders said it was overshadowed by the developments at the United Nations and in Spain.

Forties is the most important of the four North Sea crude grades that underpin the global benchmark Brent futures.

Total Brent crude trading volume outpaced U.S. crude turnover. Brent's volume was 12 percent above its 30-day average, while U.S. dealings were 21 percent below its 30-day average.

GASOLINE RALLIES

U.S. October RBOB gasoline futures rose 2.05 percent to settle at $3.1443 a gallon, up 6.32 cents. They reached $3.2086 in the session, the highest price since futures hit $3.2103 on April 30.

U.S. October heating oil rose 5.05 cents to settle at $3.1573 a gallon.

October gasoline and heating oil contracts expire on Friday.

The oil futures complex received support from Wednesday's government data showing U.S. crude and refined product inventories fell last week.

U.S. gasoline inventories lost 481,000 barrels, compared with expectations they would be up slightly, leaving total U.S. stocks and East Coast inventories at their lowest since October 2008, the Energy Information Administration said.

Seasonal maintenance at refineries on both sides of the Atlantic also supported product futures.

"The market is very tight right now, whether you look at the Gulf Coast or New York Harbor because of a rash of refinery issues across the globe," Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago, said.

(Additional reporting by Peg Mackey in London and Manash Goswami in Singapore; Editing by Dale Hudson and Bernadette Baum)

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