* Fresh pledges lift Greek bond swap prospects
* U.S. crude stocks up, in line with forecast
* Iran supply risks eased by offer of more talks
* China plans to boost energy imports in 2012
* Coming up: U.S. weekly jobless claims, Thursday
(Recasts, updates prices, market activity, analyst comments)
By Gene Ramos
NEW YORK, March 7 Crude oil rose on
Wednesday, rebounding from a sharp decline as hopes that
Greece's debt restructuring will go through lifted the euro
against the dollar, creating better bargains for oil buyers and
fanning interest in riskier trades.
Also helping oil recover from the previous day's sharp drop
was data showing an accelerated pace of job creation in the U.S.
private sector in February, raising optimism about Friday's
government employment report for that month.
News that China plans to increase energy imports this year,
seen leading to a better second half, helped pull up oil prices
in early trading.
"The dollar's reversal on the news that more private bond
holders are participating in the Greek debt swap has given way
to the return of risk-on oil trades," said Addison Armstrong,
senior director of market research at Tradition Energy in
In London, ICE Brent crude for April delivery
settled at $124.12 a barrel, up $2.14, or 1.75 percent,
rebounding strongly after declining $1.82 on Tuesday. In
post-settlement dealings, the Brent contract' session high
further increased, to $124.45.
U.S. April crude settled at $106.16, gaining $1.46 or
1.39 percent. In post-settlement trading, the contract's session
high rose further, to $106.55. It fell more than $2 on Tuesday.
Brent's premium against U.S. crude widened to $17.96 at the
close, near the session high of $18.05, from $17.28 on Tuesday.
CL-LCO1=R as the U.S. government data showed crude stockpiles
at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub rose sharply last week.
Brent's total trading volume rose 14 percent above its
30-day average and U.S. crude volume was 10 percent above its
30-day average, Reuters data showed.
On Tuesday, oil futures retreated on global growth economic
worries and as the geopolitical risk premium fell on news that
major powers had accepted Iran's offer for more talks about its
U.S. JOBS, OIL INVENTORY DATA
Hiring by U.S. companies rose by 216,000 in February,
according to the private sector ADP National Employment Report,
which was higher than expected. The data raised expectations
that the labor market recovery was moving at a faster clip.
On Friday, the U.S. government issues more comprehensive
private and public sector employment data for February.
Economists polled by Reuters expect a gain of 210,000 in nonfarm
payrolls, with a gain in the private sector of 225,000 jobs
offseting a modest dip in government jobs.
Meanwhile, U.S. government inventory data showed domestic
crude stocks rose 832,0000 barrels last week, in line with
forecasts, but stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub
surged to the highest level in eight months.
Distillate stocks, which include heating oil and diesel
fuel as well as gasoline stocks, both fell, the data showed.
That helped pull up heating oil and gasoline futures and added
support to crude, analysts said.
The day's widening of the WTI/Brent premium "spurred fresh
buying into the (U.S. gasoline) RBOB futures," despite a
smaller-than-expected gasoline stock draw, said Jim Ritterbusch,
president of Ritterbusch & Associates in Galena, Illinois.
GREECE DEBT, IRAN TALKS
A group of 30 banks and pension funds said they would take
part in Greece's bond swap offer to private creditors, adding
more supporters and increasing the chances that the deal would
be sewn up. That would then clear the way for a bailout and
prevent a messy default. Greece's offer expires at 2000 GMT on
Euro zone finance ministers are due to decide whether to
release the $130 billion euros package during a conference call
on Friday, though they have already approved the bailout,
subject to the private sector creditor agreement.
Israel cautiously welcomed a plan to resume big-power
nuclear talks with Iran, insisting that Tehran be denied the
means to turn uranium into bomb fuel.
U.S. President Barack Obama said the planned talks offered a
chance to ease tensions over Tehran's nuclear program and quiet
the "drums of war".
(Additional reporting by Robert Gibbons in New York; Drazen
Jorgic and Simon Falush in London; Jessica Jaganathan in
Singapore; Editing by Marguerita Choy)