-- Hopes for stimulus from the US Federal Reserve support oil prices
-- Brent crude oil likely to stay in $96-$98 range until Sunday's election in Greece, analysts say
-- Tentative trading ahead of the events next week that include Iran nuclear talks
Crude oil futures were higher Friday partly on speculation that the U.S. Federal Reserve would introduce stimulus measures at its meeting next week.
At 1058 GMT, the August Brent contract on London's ICE futures exchange was up 45 cents, or 0.5%, at $97.62 a barrel. The July contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange was trading up 58 cents, or 0.7%, at $84.51 a barrel.
Brent and WTI oil prices traded in a narrow range in London. Some traders stayed on the sidelines ahead of a full agenda of events that could move the market next week, including Sunday's election in Greece and the U.S. Federal Reserve meeting.
David Wech, analyst at JBC Energy, said the likelihood that the Fed will pursue further stimulus measures is increasing. He cited negative signals coming from the U.S. job market, such as the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rising last week for the fifth time in the past six weeks.
An additional stimulus package could spur economic growth, something that could help to boost demand for oil products from consumers.
The decision by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries Thursday to keep its production ceiling unchanged at 30 million barrels a day and reduce overproduction has also provided support for prices, analysts said, even though the decision was widely expected.
"Everybody's waiting for the Greek election," said Thina Saltvedt, a senior oil market analyst at Nordea Bank Norge. She said Brent crude oil was likely to trade between $96 and $98 a barrel until Sunday's election in Greece.
Monday and Tuesday, talks take place in Moscow between Iran and the West over higher level uranium enrichment. The outcome of these talks will likely guide the direction of prices, Ms. Saltvedt said.
At 1101 GMT, the ICE's gasoil contract for July delivery was trading $6.25 higher at $851.00 per metric ton, while Nymex gasoline for July delivery was up 87 points at $2.6851 per gallon.
-Write to Jenny Gross at [email protected]