* Chinese trade data points to robust economic growth
* China's commodity imports fall in May on high stocks,
(Updates prices to settlement)
By Anna Louie Sussman
NEW YORK, June 9 Brent crude rose on Monday,
gaining over $1 to surpass $110 a barrel for the first time in
June, while U.S. crude rose by nearly $2, as strong Chinese and
U.S. data pointed to healthy economic growth and higher demand
for oil from the world's top two consumers.
China's exports beat forecasts in May on firmer global
demand, rising 7 percent from a year earlier and quickening from
April's increase of 0.9 percent. The strong gains overshadowed
an unexpected fall in imports that could signal weaker domestic
Market watchers said U.S. crude's outperformance, in the
absence of any clear change in the fundamental picture, could
not be sufficiently explained by the Chinese data.
"Don't let anyone tell you it's China, or U.S. payrolls,"
said Stephen Schork, editor of The Schork Report in Villanova,
Pennsylvania. "Something's happening and we don't know what it
Brent rose by $1.38 a barrel to settle at $109.99,
after settling down 18 cents and declining 0.7 percent last
U.S. oil rose by $1.75 a barrel to settle at $104.41.
The spread CL-LCO1=R between the two benchmarks settled at
$5.58, after swinging between $5.25 and $6.15 during Monday's
Valero Energy Corp had flaring at its 125,000
barrel-per-day Meraux, Louisiana, refinery Sunday, according to
the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.
The positive data boosted an oil market already bolstered by
the loss of crude exports from Libya, where violence and civil
turmoil have cut oil output by more than 1 million barrels per
day (bpd) from pre-unrest levels.
"Libya's crude oil exports are getting closer to zero," said
Richard Hastings, macro strategist at Global Hunter Securities
in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Chinese data followed U.S. figures from Friday showing
employment returning to its pre-recession peak, confirming
steady improvement in the world's top economy.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries meets
in Vienna this week and is likely to keep an output target of 30
million bpd. Members of the cartel, which pumps a third of the
world's oil, are happy with oil prices and producing enough to
cover most of their budget needs.
(Additional reporting by Lorenzo Ligato and Robert Gibbons in
New York, Manash Goswami in Singapore; Editing by Susan Thomas,
John Stonestreet and David Gregorio)