Oil rises as earnings boost economic outlook

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil touched a two-week high above $65 a barrel on Tuesday as a slew of rosy corporate earnings reports fed into hopes for an economic recovery that could revive global energy demand.

U.S. crude gained 74 cents to settle at $64.72 a barrel, after climbing to a two-week high of $65.53. London Brent rose 43 cents to $66.87.

The rise in the oil market came as a raft of major companies, including Caterpillar Inc CAT.N and Merck & Co MRK.N, reported stronger-than-expected results in the second quarter that many analysts took as a sign of economic improvement. .N

Weakness in the U.S. dollar also supported commodities markets, analysts said, in part by strengthening the purchasing power of buyers using other currencies.

“The (crude) market is trading more off the equities than the dollar, with the economic indicators and earnings lending support to sentiment,” said Andy Lebow, a broker at MF Global in New York.

News that a powerful storm hobbled two oil refineries in Alberta also played into gains, tightening up already thin gasoline stockpiles in the Canadian province. [ID:nN21241365] Petro-Canada said Tuesday it was making arrangements to have additional gasoline supplies shipped into the area.

The front-month August U.S. contract expires at the close of trade Tuesday and will be replaced by the September contract, which rose 32 cents to $65.61 a barrel.

The American Petroleum Institute release its weekly figures after oil settled Tuesday, showing U.S. crude stockpiles rose unexpectedly by 3.1 million barrels. <EIA/S>

Oil stocks in industrialized countries equated to 62.5 days of demand cover at the end of May, according to the latest figures from the International Energy Agency -- around 10 days more than the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries considers comfortable.

Algerian Energy and Mines Minister Chakib Khelil on Monday predicted prices would stay in a $65-$70 range this year as long as the market remained oversupplied and said OPEC could cut output when it next meets in September.

Additional reporting by Barbara Lewis and David Sheppard in London and Jennifer Tan in Singapore; Editing by Christian Wiessner