OIL FUTURES: Crude Edges Higher As Greece Worries Ease

Date : 05/21/2012 @ 10:12AM
Source : Dow Jones News

OIL FUTURES: Crude Edges Higher As Greece Worries Ease

Oil futures edged higher Monday, snapping a six-session losing streak, as Greece's imminent exit from the euro looked less likely and fears of a broader crisis in the currency zone eased slightly.

Light, sweet crude for June delivery rose 28 cents, or 0.3%, to $91.76 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude on ICE Futures Europe rose 81 cents, or 0.8%, to $107.95 a barrel.

Broader markets, including European equities, were higher after the Group Of Eight industrialized nations affirmed over the weekend that they support Greece remaining in the euro zone.

Meanwhile, Greece's conservatives gained ground in weekend polls, suggesting that the country could produce a government that meets Europe's terms for remaining in the single currency.

In China, comments from Premier Wen Jiabao raised expectations that additional stimulus measures could be on the horizon, which could further power economic growth in the world's second-biggest oil consumer.

"Given the fears surrounding Europe and the possible exit from by Greece from the euro, these words have been accepted by markets like a comfort blanket," said Matt Smith, analyst at Summit Energy in Louisville, Ky.

Oil futures have retreated sharply over the last week, weighed in large part by fears that political turmoil in Greece could force the country to exit the euro zone, touching off a broader crisis that puts the entire currency union in jeopardy and ultimately weighing on economic growth and oil demand.

Meanwhile, cooling tensions with Iran have also fed the recent sell-off. On Wednesday, Tehran is set to meet in Baghdad with delegations from the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany, to continue discussions over its nuclear program.

The summit follows last month's meeting in Istanbul, and is offering hope that a diplomatic solution to the nuclear stand-off is viable. Western countries worry that Iran is developing nuclear technology to build a bomb, while Tehran claims its program is for peaceful purposes.

Still, several analysts have noted that prices could easily rebound if conflict with Iran again looks likely. The European Union is set to fully implement an oil embargo on Iran starting July 1.

"The money has kind of exited the market and it's waiting for the next big thing to hit," said Carl Larry, head of the trading advisory firm Oil Outlooks and Opinions.

Front-month June reformulated gasoline blendstock, or RBOB, recently rose 3.01 cents, or 1%, to $2.9196 a gallon. June heating oil advanced 1.81 cents, or 0.6%, to $2.8481 a gallon.

-By Dan Strumpf, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2818; dan.strumpf@dowjones.com.

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