Investing.com - New York-traded crude oil futures rose to a three-week high on Friday, as upbeat U.S. data underlined the view that the economy was regaining strength after a setback caused by bad weather.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light sweet crude oil futures for delivery in May rose to a session high of $102.24 a barrel on Friday, the most since March 10.
U.S. crude futures ended Friday’s session up 0.39%, or 39 cents, to settle at $101.67 a barrel.
Futures were likely to find support at $99.10 a barrel, the low from March 26 and resistance at $102.54 a barrel, the high from March 10.
Nymex oil futures ended the week with a gain of 2.14%, or $2.18, the second consecutive weekly advance.
The Commerce Department reported Friday that U.S. consumer spending rose 0.3% last month after a downwardly revised gain of 0.2% in January
A separate report showed that the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index slipped to 80.0 in March, down from 81.6 the month before. It was higher than the preliminary March reading of 79.9 but below forecasts of 80.5.
Meanwhile, data on Thursday showed that U.S. jobless claims fell to their lowest level since late November last week, while U.S. economic fourth quarter growth was revised higher.
The upbeat data added to hopes that the slowdown in economic activity seen at the start of the year would be temporary.
Risk sentiment received an additional boost amid indications that China’s government is prepared to do more to shore up the cooling economy.
China''s premier Li Keqiang said Friday that the country has policies in place to counter economic volatility.
The U.S. and China are the world’s two largest oil consuming nations
In the week ahead, investors will be looking to Friday’s U.S. nonfarm payrolls report for March for further indications on the strength of the labor market.
Market watchers are expecting the latest U.S. employment report to show solid jobs growth, with a payroll gain of 200,000, after 175,000 jobs were added in February.
Data from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission released Friday showed that hedge funds and money managers reduced their bullish bets in New York-traded oil futures in the week ending March 25.
Net longs totaled 293,403 contracts, down 2.95% from net longs of 302,320 in the preceding week.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for May delivery rose to a daily high of $108.39 a barrel on Friday, the most since March 17, before trimming gains to settle at $108.07, up 0.22%, or 24 cents.
The May Brent contract picked up 1.15%, or $1.25, on the week. Meanwhile, the spread between the Brent and the WTI crude contracts stood at $6.40 a barrel by close of trade on Friday.
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