NEW YORK (Reuters) - 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. <USD/>
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.
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 (SUN.N) 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 (BP.L) 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.
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. .N
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. <MET/L>
U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Petroleum Supply Monthly report due on Monday at noon EDT.
American Petroleum Institute oil inventory data due at 4:30 p.m. EDT on Tuesday.
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
CURRENT Mar 29 30D AVG Mar 29 NET CHNG
Reporting By Robert Gibbons; Editing by David Gregorio