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Oil creeps above $54 on economic recovery optimism

Oil creeps above $54 on economic recovery optimism

Oil prices crept above $54 a barrel Wednesday in Asia as comments by the top U.S. central banker stoked investor optimism that economic growth and crude demand may pick up by the end of the year.
Benchmark crude for June delivery was up 19 cents to $54.03 a barrel by midday in Singapore, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract Tuesday fell 63 cents to settle at $53.84.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gave his most optimistic prediction yet Tuesday about the end of the U.S. recession, saying he expects the economy to start growing again this year.
Bernanke cited firmer home sales, a revival in consumer spending and some improvement in lending conditions for banks, businesses and individual borrowers.
Pending U.S. home sales rose more than forecast on Monday and had their second straight monthly gain, while on Tuesday the Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing business index jumped in April, beating analysts' expectations.
Oil has traded near $50 a barrel for more than a month after dropping from a record $147 in July and rising from below $35 in February.
"We might be poised for a break out," said Toby Hassall, an analyst with investment firm Commodity Warrants Australia in Sydney. "The signs are promising. Some of these leading indicators are encouraging."
Traders will be watching the weekly petroleum inventory data for the week ended May 1 from the Energy Information Agency on Wednesday. Analysts expect a build of 2.2 million barrels, according to a survey by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.
Crude stocks rose 4.1 million barrels last week and are near 19-year highs.
Investors are also anticipating the U.S. bank stress test results on Thursday and April unemployment figures on Friday.
"It's going to be difficult to see a sustained rally given the fundamentals of high inventories that are still rising," Hassall said. "Unemployment is also still rising, which doesn't bode well for a pick up in consumer demand."
In other Nymex trading, gasoline for June delivery rose 1.19 cents to $1.58 a gallon and heating oil was steady at $1.42 a gallon. Natural gas for June delivery slid 1.1 cents to $3.60 per 1,000 cubic feet.
In London, Brent prices rose 6 cents to $54.18 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.


Updated : 2021-07-24 00:02 GMT+08:00