U.S. Crude Rises on Supportive Data, Brent Slips


U.S. crude rose on Tuesday, as supportive U.S. economic data overshadowed concerns about slowed growth in other oil consuming economies and ample global oil supplies.

Brent crude futures settled lower and both U.S. and Brent finished off session peaks.

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U.S. crude drew support from government data showing durable goods orders jumped 22.6 percent in July, the biggest monthly gain on record. Also, the Conference Board, an industry group, reported that consumer confidence rose more than expected in August to its highest level since October 2007.

Brent crude fell 15 cents to settle at $102.50 a barrel, after reaching $103.40 during the session.

U.S. crude rose 51 cents to settle at $93.86 a barrel, after failing to push through resistance in the area of the session peak at $94.35 a barrel, analysts said.

"We hit major resistance as the dollar got a little stronger. It's a rangebound trade with no real resistance" to the downside, said Bill Baruch, senior market strategist at iitrader.com in Chicago.

Brent and U.S. crude are on pace for a second straight monthly decline in August, as slow growth in China and Europe curbs demand for oil and led to a supply glut in the Atlantic Basin, offsetting the impact on prices from world political tensions.

Investors have unwound a global political risk premium in Brent, discounting the possibility of supply disruption despite conflicts in Iraq, Libya and Ukraine.

Barclays analysts said in a note that oil output was picking up from OPEC countries most likely to face supply bottlenecks such as Iran, Libya, Iraq and Nigeria.

Disrupted supply from these countries totalled less than 400,000 barrels per day in July, down from 1.6 million bpd in September last year, they said.

Libya's oil production has been increasing in the past few weeks despite a split between an Islamist faction in Tripoli and the newly elected parliament, following air strikes attributed to Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

Brent's premium to U.S. crude <CL-LCO1=R> ended at $8.64 a barrel on Tuesday, after reaching $9.35 intraday. On Monday the spread widened to $9.41, the widest in more than two months, on news of a pipeline oil flow switch that will send more crude to the U.S. oil contract's delivery point in Cushing, Oklahoma.

Investors will scour weekly U.S. oil inventory data from industry and the government for fresh indications on supply and demand in the world's largest oil consumer.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories are forecast to have fallen 1.3 million barrels last week, with refined product stockpiles also down, an expanded Reuters survey showed on Tuesday.

(By Anna Louie Sussman; Additional reporting by Robert Gibbons in New York, Julia Payne in London and Florence Tan in Singapore; Editing by Himani Sarkar, Jane Baird and Jan Paschal)