UPDATE 12-Oil rises after six-day sell-off, market seen oversold

Thu Apr 18, 2013 5:47pm EDT

Related Topics

* Crude prices up nearly $2 in post-settlement trading

* Technical bounce, supply concerns support prices

* Weak U.S. economic data briefly sends oil lower

* Venezuela says OPEC discussing meeting to stop falling prices

* Coming up: U.S. CFTC positions data 3:30 p.m. Friday (Updates post-settlement prices, rewrites throughout)

By Anna Louie Sussman

NEW YORK, April 18 (Reuters) - Brent crude oil rose more than $1 a barrel back toward $100 a barrel on Thursday, snapping a six-day losing streak as low prices sparked buying by bargain hunters.

The backdrop for Brent's 9-percent price slide this month, and U.S. crude's drop in four out of the previous five sessions, was a series of reports and forecasts indicating slowing global demand for oil. The moves have left prices technically oversold, traders and analysts said.

"We haven't seen any change in the fundamentals, so the view that we're in oversold territory is probably true," said Gene McGillian, broker and analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut, adding that traders with long bets on crude oil prices had likely eased their liquidation selling.

Brent crude fell below $100 a barrel on Tuesday for the first time since July 2012, prompting rumblings from Iran and Venezuela, the price hawks in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Venezuela said Thursday afternoon that OPEC ministers are in consultations over whether to call an extraordinary meeting, but OPEC delegates from the Gulf did not appear to share their urgency. The next scheduled meeting is May 31.

Brent crude futures for June delivery rose $1.44 to settle at $99.13 a barrel. The day's low was $96.75, its weakest since July.

Prices rose more than $2 in post-settlement trade, and stood up $1.95 at $99.64 by 5:17 p.m. EDT (2117 GMT).

U.S. front-month May crude settled up $1.05 at $87.73 a barrel and reached $88.42 in post-settlement trading. Earlier it shed more than $1 to $85.61, a 2013 low.

The relative strength index (RSI), a technical momentum indicator, was below 30 for Brent and just above 30 for U.S. crude most of Thursday.

A reading of 30 or below indicates an oversold condition to chart-watching traders, and Brent has been below 30 for the past five trading sessions.

WILL OPEC CUT OUTPUT?

Traders and analysts already are bracing for a possible reaction from OPEC to the recent price plunge, with many of the member governments seeing revenue needed to balance budgets evaporate.

The Venezuelan oil minister's expression of concern on Thursday followed an announcement from Iran's oil minister that OPEC members will discuss holding an emergency meeting if oil prices stay below $100 a barrel. His statement was reported by Iran's Press TV.

Gary Hornby, an energy analyst at Inenco, said rumors were beginning to circulate that OPEC could cut production to boost prices back above $100 a barrel.

"This could well force oil traders to start purchasing again after the steep falls we have seen, even before any potential production cut is agreed," Hornby said.

Seaborne oil exports from OPEC, excluding Angola and Ecuador, will fall by 220,000 bpd in the four weeks to May 4, British consultant Oil Movements said in its weekly estimate on Thursday.

Other supply concerns supported crude oil prices, especially Brent, after Royal Dutch Shell on Wednesday declared force majeure on Nigerian Bonny Light crude exports after shutting down the 150,000-barrel per day (bpd) Nembe Creek pipeline for repairs.

ECONOMIC HEADWINDS

Reports showing a gauge of future economic activity fell in March and factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region contracted in April briefly sent both Brent and U.S. crude oil down before they resumed their upward climb.

A rise in jobless claims added to Thursday's less-than-supportive data and the weak economic news pressured U.S. equities. The weaker dollar index helped give dollar-denominated oil prices a boost.

"A lot of the selling has already been done," said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.

"The data reflect the fears that we played out early this week and last week."

U.S. heating oil also rose more than 1 percent.

U.S. gasoline gained nearly 1 percent, tagging along with crude after Wednesday's U.S. Energy Information Administration report said gasoline demand was at a 16-year low.

(Additional reporting by Robert Gibbons in New York, Simon Falush in London, Jessica Jaganthan in Singapore and Osamu Tsukimori in Tokyo; editing by Gunna Dickson and Alden Bentley)

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