* U.S. manufacturing data stronger than expected
* China PMI better than expected, Euro zone sees growth
* Supply disruptions in Libya, Nigeria, Iraq
By Nicolas Medina Mora Perez
NEW YORK, Aug 1 U.S. crude oil prices rose more
than 2 percent on Thursday, narrowing the discount to European
Brent for a second day, on a wave of surprisingly upbeat global
economic data and supply disruptions in Africa and Iraq.
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment
benefits fell to a 5-1/2-year low last week, and a closely
watched index of U.S. manufacturing activity was at its highest
in two years. A China industrial index beat expectations while
euro zone manufacturing returned to growth.
The broad rally in riskier assets also drew from Wednesday's
meeting of the Federal Reserve, which showed no sign of planning
to curb its bond buying at its next meeting in September. The
S&P 500 stock index rose 1 percent to a record high and copper
gained 2 percent.
"The combination of a strong stock market, strong economic
data, and the fact that the Fed said they were worried about
deflation, looks double-barrelled bullish to me," said Phil
Flynn, an analyst with Price Futures Group in Chicago.
"As fear of the great taper go down, we seem to be going
back to the sane old days when good economic news supported oil
prices instead of sending bearish signals."
U.S. crude outpaced Brent, adding $2.86 to settle at
$107.89 a barrel, after reaching $108.06, the highest intraday
price in 14 days.
Brent crude gained $1.84 to settle at $109.54 a
barrel, after reaching intraday highs of $109.59, its strongest
since February. It ended July with the largest monthly
percentage gain since August 2012.
The North Sea benchmark's premium to U.S. crude
narrowed to settle at $1.65, having reached intraday highs of
$2.65 and lows of $1.18 by the time of settlement.
U.S. gasoline futures were also stronger, rising 4
cents to $3.04 a gallon.
China's official purchasing managers' index was also higher
than expected, and a survey showed euro zone manufacturing began
to grow in July, suggesting the region might pull out of
recession this quarter.
U.S. stock markets jumped, with the S&P 500 index topping
1,700 points for the first time.
Concern over supplies from Libya, Iraq and Nigeria also
underpinned prices. The disruptions helped trim OPEC output to a
four-month low in July, according to a Reuters survey published
In Libya, protests at oilfields and terminals cut average
supply to 1.15 million barrels per day in July, according to the
survey, down 150,000 bpd from June. Libya's oil minister said
output had fallen 330,000 bpd from 1.4 million bpd on Monday.
Iraq's production has also come under pressure as Sunni
insurgents target its northern pipeline, while technical
problems are curbing output in the south.
Europe's biggest oil company, Royal Dutch Shell Plc
, said on Thursday that a surge in oil thefts in Nigeria
contributed to a lower second-quarter profit, while Italy's Eni
SpA cut its production target and highlighted Nigerian
Lending further support, oil inventories at the Cushing,
Oklahoma, delivery point for the U.S. crude contract fell for a
fifth straight week, government data showed on Wednesday,
although overall stocks increased.