March 30, 2012 / 9:46 PM / 5 years ago

NYMEX-U.S. crude ends higher, gains 4.2 pct in Q1

* U.S. gains 4.2 percent in first quarter
    * Obama to move forward on sanctions on Iran oil buyers
    * Coming up: EIA monthly oil report noon Monday

    NEW YORK, March 30 (Reuters) - U.S. crude futures edged up
on Friday on ongoing concerns about Iran and supply disruptions,
improved consumer sentiment and a weak dollar, as oil prices
posted a 4.2 percent gain in the first quarter.	
    Crude futures' trading trajectory was choppy and prices
jumped late in the session after the Obama administration said
there is enough global oil supply to allow countries to cut
imports from Iran.	
    U.S. President Barack Obama was required by law to determine
by March 30, and every six months after that, whether the price
and supply of non-Iranian oil are sufficient to allow consuming
nations to "significantly" cut their purchases from Iran.
 	
    The law allows the U.S., after June 28, to sanction foreign
banks that carry out oil-related transactions with Iran's
central bank.	
    Oil prices have been supported by worries about supply with
European Union's ban on Iranian crude imports slated for July 1.	
    U.S. consumer confidence rebounded to its highest in 13
months in March as optimism about jobs and income overcame
higher prices at the gasoline pump, according to the Thomson
Reuters/University of Michigan's survey. 	
    The consumer optimism and a separate report showing consumer
spending in February increased by the most in seven months
helped counter bearish data showing U.S. Midwest manufacturing
activity slowed in March.     	
    The euro rallied against the dollar and the yen after 
budget cuts in Spain boosted hopes the country could stick to an
austerity path, though mixed U.S. data capped some gains. 	
    The euro also received a boost against the dollar after euro
zone finance ministers agreed to raise their financial firewall.
 A weaker greenback can lift dollar-denominated
oil by making it less expensive for consumers using other
currencies.	
    	
    FUNDAMENTALS	
    * On the New York Mercantile Exchange, May crude 
 rose 24 cents, or 0.23 percent, to settle at $103.02 a
barrel, having traded from $102.78 to $104.15.	
    * For the quarter, front-month crude rose $4.19, or
4.2 percent. For the month, U.S. crude fell $4.05, or 3.78
percent. For the week, it fell $3.85, or 3.60 percent.	
    * On the IntercontinentalExchange, Brent May crude 
on Friday rose 49 cents, or 0.40 percent, to settle at $122.88 a
barrel.	
    * For the quarter, front-month Brent crude jumped
$15.50, or 14.4 percent. For the month, Brent managed a gain of
22 cents, or 0.18 percent. For the week, Brent fell $2.25, or
1.80 percent.	
    * Expiring NYMEX April RBOB gasoline slipped 1.07
cents to settle at $3.3899 a gallon, but gained 70.36 cents, or
26.19 percent for the quarter. For the month, RBOB gained 34.76
cents, or 11.43 percent. For the week, RBOB gained only 0.47
cent, or 0.14 percent.	
    * Expiring NYMEX April heating oil rose 0.95 cent to
settle at $3.1684 a gallon and for the quarter gained 23.34
cents, or 7.95 percent. For the month it fell 1.96 cents, or
0.61 percent. For the week, heating oil fell 4.17 cents, or 1.30
percent.	
    * A Reuters survey showed OPEC oil output rising in March to
its highest level since October 2008 as higher Iraqi and Libyan
output offset less production in Iran. 	
    * Euro zone finance ministers agreed to increase their
financial firewall to 700 billion euros to ward off a spread of
Europe's sovereign debt crisis, drawing a positive initial
reaction from G20 partners and markets. 	
    * Turkey said it will cut imports of oil from Iran by a
tenth. 	
    * Two cargoes of North Sea Forties crude have been dropped
from the April loading program and another cargo has been
delayed, traders said, following the natural gas leak and
shutdown of the Elgin platform this week. 	
    * Sunoco Inc reported to regulators an equipment
malfunction at hydrotreater 859 at the Point Breeze section of
its 335,000 barrel-per-day refinery in Philadelphia on
Wednesday. 	
    * BP's oil refinery in Rotterdam experienced two
small fires, a spokeswoman for Rotterdam fire department told
Reuters. "There were two fires at BP. There was not very much
damage," she told Reuters by telephone, adding that both had
been extinguished. 	
    	
    MARKETS NEWS	
    * U.S. stocks closed their strongest quarter in more than
two years on a positive note, led by recently underperforming
sectors, including energy and health care. 	
    * Copper rose, capping its  biggest quarterly gain since
late 2010, as the dollar weakened and a bullish trend in
warehouse stockpiles boosted prices even as investors remained
worried  about the Chinese demand outlook. 	
    	
    UPCOMING DATA/EVENTS	
    * U.S. Energy Information Administration's Petroleum Supply
Monthly report due on Monday at noon EDT (1600 GMT).	
    * American Petroleum Institute oil inventory data due at
4:30 p.m. EDT (2030 GMT) on Tuesday.	
    	
        SETTLE     NET    PCT     LOW    HIGH  CURRENT  DAY AGO
                  CHNG   CHNG                      VOL      VOL
 CLc1   103.02    0.24   0.2%  102.78  104.15  223,444  319,988
 CLc2   103.54    0.23   0.2%  103.30  104.64   62,635   80,908
 LCOc1  122.88    0.49   0.4%  122.58  124.07  173,914  224,416
 RBc1   3.3899 -0.0107  -0.3%  3.3800  3.4412    6,879   31,044
 RBc2   3.3081 -0.0316  -1.0%  3.3004  3.3761   67,566   77,122
 HOc1   3.1684  0.0095   0.3%  3.1518  3.1951    6,323   16,863
 HOc2   3.1701  0.0003   0.0%  3.1635  3.2105   58,618   63,549
 
 TOTAL MARKET            VOLUME                 OPEN  INTEREST
              CURRENT    Mar 29   30D AVG     Mar 29  NET CHNG
 CRUDE        425,350   575,594   627,218  1,560,416    -1,200
 RBOB         206,394   226,486   146,599    347,803   -15,095
 HO           141,055   153,839   140,721    275,696    -7,699

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