Oil Gains Big on First Day of 3Q

Published July 01, 2013

| Reuters

Oil futures rose on Monday, the first day of the third quarter, with gains in U.S. crude outpacing the rest of the oil complex and pushing the U.S. contract's discount to Brent to a 2-1/2 year low amid a broad commodities rally.

A bullish U.S. equities market, growth in U.S. manufacturing and the impact of Canadian pipeline problems on U.S. inventories helped lift U.S. crude.

Brent's premium to U.S. crude has steadily narrowed to hit a low Monday of $4.75 per barrel, its lowest level since early January 2011 and down from its 2013 high of over $23 hit in February.

The spread move came after BP Plc announced it completed the commissioning and start-up of a new 250,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) crude distillation unit at its 413,000 bpd Whiting, Indiana, refinery.

The start-up is expected to help draw down crude inventories at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery point for U.S. oil futures, helping to support the contract relative to Brent.

Traders were also watching news that Enbridge Inc confirmed the restart of its 345,000 bpd Athabasca pipeline in Alberta, Canada, on Monday. Enbridge shut the line, as well as the 600,000 bpd Waupisoo pipeline pipeline in late June after a spill at a nearby pipeline.

Traders and analysts said the shutdown is believed to have drawn on U.S. inventories in the week through June 28.

Brent crude for August settled up 84 cents at $103.00 a barrel. U.S. crude settled up $1.43 at $97.99, leaving the spread at $5.01.

Overall, commodity and equities markets gained after data showed U.S. manufacturing bounced back in June and construction spending hit a four-year high. Gold rebounded from its worst quarterly decline on record, rising 1.5 percent, while copper jumped 3 percent.

"We would expect stronger demand here [in the United States] because of bullish manufacturing numbers," said Phil Flynn, energy analyst with the Price Futures Group in Chicago, Illinois.

"U.S. demand has probably given West Texas Intermediate [WTI, a benchmark for U.S. crude] the edge today," Flynn said, noting he expected the spread between the two benchmarks to ultimately reverse to its historic norm as the U.S. continues to ramp up production and find new ways to get it to market.

Encouraging manufacturing data from Europe, a supply disruption in the North Sea and concerns over political turmoil in Egypt gave Brent a hand.

A key survey of euro zone manufacturing suggested the bloc's economy had stabilized and would probably grow this quarter, raising hopes of a revival in European oil demand.

The more upbeat European survey balanced PMIs from China and India showing signs of cooling economic growth. China's official PMI report was better than expected. (Additional reporting by Christopher Johnson in London, Florence Tan in Singapore; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Jim Marshall)

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