Investing.com - New York-traded crude oil futures rallied to a five-week high on Friday, amid indications the U.S. economy is shaking off the effects of a weather-related slowdown over the winter.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, U.S. crude oil oil for delivery in July rose to a daily high of $104.50 a barrel, the most since April 21, before subsequently settling at $104.35 by close of trade, up 0.59%, or 61 cents.
Futures were likely to find support at $102.78 a barrel, the low from May 21 and resistance at $104.76 a barrel, the high from April 21.
For the week, Nymex oil futures rose 2.65%, or $2.77 a barrel, the second consecutive weekly gain.
The Commerce Department reported that sales of new homes rose by a larger-than-expected 6.4% to 433,000 in April, after two months of decline. Analysts had been expecting a figure of 425,000. March''s number was revised up from 384,000 to 407,000.
The upbeat data added to signs of a recovery in the housing market and bolstered the outlook for the broader economic recovery.
Meanwhile, prices continued to draw support from bullish supply data released earlier in the week. U.S. crude oil inventories tumbled by 7.2 million barrels to hit a total of 391.3 million last week. Analysts had expected supplies to increase by 0.8 million barrels.
Stockpiles at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for Nymex oil, fell to 23.4 million barrels last week, the least since December 2008.
Data from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission released Friday showed that hedge funds and money managers increased their bullish bets in New York-traded oil futures in the week ending May 20.
Net longs totaled 323,993 contracts as of last week, up 3.95% from net longs of 311,195 in the preceding week.
In the week ahead, floor trading on the Nymex will remain closed on Monday, May 26 because of the Memorial Day holiday. Revised data on U.S. first quarter growth and reports on U.S. consumer confidence will be in focus.
Investors will also be watching developments tied to the weekend elections in Ukraine, amid concerns over a disruption to supplies from the region.
Ukraine will hold presidential elections on Sunday, May 25, and concerns persist that Russia will meddle in the voting and escalate the crisis.
U.S. and European officials have already warned that Russia would face additional sanctions if Moscow disrupts the upcoming elections.
Russia produced 10.4 million barrels of oil per day in 2012 and exported 7.4 million, making it the world’s second largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil for July delivery picked up 0.16%, or 18 cents, on Friday to settle at $110.54 a barrel by close of trade.
The July Brent contract rose 0.71% or 79 cents a barrel, on the week, amid growing concerns over a disruption to supplies from Libya.
Libya, an OPEC member, is home to Africa’s largest oil reserves, but production there has faltered in the three years following the topple of former leader Muammar Qaddafi due to political instability and attacks on oil assets.
Meanwhile the spread between the Brent and the WTI crude contracts stood at $6.19 a barrel by close of trade on Friday, compared to $8.17 in the preceding week.
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