* Markets in waiting game ahead of Greek election
* U.S. jobless claims rise, consumer prices fall
* Coming up: CFTC trader position report, Friday
(Updates with post-settlement prices, volumes, Brent premium)
By Gene Ramos
NEW YORK, June 14 Oil futures rose on Thursday
after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries
agreed to keep its collective oil output ceiling unchanged for
the second half of the year at 30 million barrels per day.
The move implies a supply cut of 1.6 million bpd, OPEC
Secretary-General Abdullah al-Badri said. Several OPEC members
had called on Saudi Arabia, the group's top producer, to trim
its excess supply to the agreed limit as a way to defend crude
at $100 a barrel.
In post-settlement trading, oil rose further as the euro
extended gains against the dollar after G20 officials said
central banks are prepared for coordinated action to provide
liquidity if needed after the Greek election on Sun day.
Oil prices on both sides of the Atlantic had fluctuated
earlier, awaiting the results of the OPEC meeting and as
investors fidgeted ahead of the closely watched Greek election.
The more actively traded Brent August crude ended up
45 cents at $97.17 a barrel. Post-settlement, the contract
leaped to a session high of $97.79, up $1.07.
The July Brent crude expired earlier, down 10 cents
at $97.03, the lowest level since January 2011.
U.S. July crude settled at $83.91 a barrel, gaining
$1.29, after hitting a session high of $83.93. After settlement,
it rose as high as $84.39, up $1.77. U.S. crude had ended the
previous session at the lowest since Oct. 6.
"Oil prices rallied on OPEC seemingly holding together by
agreeing to a production ceiling," said John Kilduff, partner at
Again Capital in New York.
"It was a victory for the group that the meeting did not end
in disarray," he said.
Recently strong refinery activity in the United States gave
West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, more of lift than
Brent, Kilduff said, noting that Brent had been "held back by
the continuing euro debt crisis, punctuated by the upcoming
Trading volumes were subdued, with Brent down 8 percent from
its 30-day average while U.S. crude dipped 4 percent below its
30-day average, according to Reuters data.
Brent's premium against U.S. crude slimmed to below $13, the
lowest since early May. CL-LCO1=R
The narrowing came a day after U.S. government data showed
that crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery hub fell
last week from a record level, confirming reports that suggested
last month's reversal of the Seaway pipeline was helping ship
excess Midwest oil to Houston.
Earlier, Brent moved either side of unchanged, as investors
believed the euro zone debt crisis was far from over, after
ratings agency Moody's downgraded Spanish sovereign debt to one
notch above junk status.
U.S. crude rose, initially lifted by gains on Wall Street,
despite data showing that the number of Americans filing for
jobless benefits rose last week for the fifth time in six weeks.
The data underlined persistent weakness in the labor market in
the world's largest oil consumer.
Another set of data showed that consumer prices fell in May,
raising fresh hopes that the U.S. Federal Reserve would help the
weakening economy though additional monetary stimulus.
SAUDI SUPPLY IMPACT
Extra Saudi oil is said to be largely responsible for
lifting OPEC output to 31.6 million bpd, well above the group's
formal target first set in December.
Oil prices have dropped from a $128 peak for Brent in March,
and from $110 for U.S. crude, in part because the economic
outlook has darkened but also because of increased Saudi output
that in April set a 30-year high of 10.1 million bpd.
Raising output was a deliberate move by Riyadh to counter
the possibility that Iranian oil output would fall heavily when
a European Union embargo on Tehran starts next month. Iranian
production is already down to a 20-year low.
Graphic on OPEC oil production:
ANALYSIS-Sliding oil rebalances Middle East
Iraq and Iran cuddle up in OPEC, for how long?
OPEC: not the same cartel without the quotas
Traders were cautious ahead of the Greek polls.
"The market is on a knife's edge," said Ole Hansen, senior
commodity strategist at Saxo Bank. "Traders are not willing to
add any new exposure ahead of that because there could be some
silly moves come Sunday night," he added.
Election results favoring parties opposed to the austerity
terms of a Greek bailout are expected to increase the likelihood
of Greece's being thrown out of the euro zone, or choosing to
Analysts said this could worsen the economic troubles in
other European Union countries such as Spain and Italy and weigh
on Europe's key trading partners, and lead to lower oil demand.
"Europe remains the greater concern as yields on both
Italian and Spanish bonds have climbed to new highs," said Tim
Evans, energy analyst at City Futures Perspective in New York.
"For the oil market, this points to both softer physical
demand for fuel and to some ongoing risk of further risk-off
trade flow," he said.
(Additional reporting by Robert Gibbons in New York, Claire
Milhench in London, Manash Goswami in Singapore; Editing by
Marguerita Choy and Dale Hudson)