Investing.com - New York-traded crude oil futures hit a two-week high on Friday, amid expectations the U.S. economic recovery will continue to deepen going into this year.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light sweet crude futures for delivery in March rose 0.52% on Friday to settle the week at USD94.59 a barrel by close of trade.
Nymex oil prices hit a session high of USD95.07 a barrel earlier in the day, the strongest level since January 3. The March contract dipped 0.26% on Thursday to settle at USD94.10 a barrel.
Oil futures were likely to find support at USD92.63 a barrel, the low from January 15 and resistance at USD95.73 a barrel, the high from January 3.
On the week, U.S. crude futures, also known as West Texas Intermediate or WTI, climbed 1.97%, the first weekly gain in three weeks.
Better-than-expected data on U.S. housing starts sent oil prices higher on Friday after investors viewed the numbers as another indication of a more robust U.S. economy, one that will demand more fuel and energy going forward.
U.S. housing starts fell to 999,000 units last month from an upwardly revised 1.11 million in November, better than expectations for a decline to 990,000 units. U.S. building permits dropped to 986,000 in December, but held close to November’s five year highs of 1.01 million units.
Separate reports showed that U.S. industrial production rose 0.3% in December, increasing for the fifth consecutive month, while consumer sentiment declined in January.
Nymex oil prices rallied sharply on Wednesday after government data showed that U.S. oil supplies fell significantly more-than-expected last week, easing concerns over a slowdown in demand from the world’s largest oil consumer.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that U.S. crude oil inventories fell by 7.7 million barrels in the week ended January 10, compared to expectations for a decline of 0.6 million barrels.
Total U.S. crude oil inventories stood at 350.2 million barrels as of last week, the lowest since March 2012.
The CFTC Commitments of Traders report for the week ending January 14 showed that gross long oil positions fell by 7,066 contracts to 284,307, while gross short positions increased by 10,389 lots to 54,585. Net longs totaled 229,722 contracts, compared to 247,177 in the preceding week.
In the week ahead, investors will be closely watching Chinese data on gross domestic product, industrial production and retail sales. The Asian nation is the world''s second largest oil consumer after the U.S. and has been the engine of strengthening demand.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for March delivery advanced 0.69% on Friday to settle the week at USD106.48 a barrel.
The February Brent contract lost 0.71% on the week. Meanwhile, the spread between the Brent and the crude contracts stood at USD11.89 a barrel by close of trade on Friday.
London-traded Brent prices have been under pressure in recent sessions as the prospect of a rise in Iranian and Libyan oil exports weighed.
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