TOKYO: US crude futures firmed on Friday, extending a jump by more than $2 per barrel a day earlier on encouraging US retail and labour market data, with a focus on the critical June US payrolls report due later in the day.
NYMEX crude for August delivery was up 24 cents at $98.91 a barrel by 2310 GMT. The contract settled up $2.02 at $98.67 on Thursday after briefly topping $99 to hit a three-week high.
London Brent crude for August delivery was untraded, after settling up $4.97 at $118.59, the biggest one-day gain since May 9.
Economists polled by Reuters expected the US monthly jobs report, due at 1230 GMT on Friday, to show employers added 90,000 jobs in June.
The Brent/WTI spread blew out by $3 to top $20 a barrel on Thursday, the widest since June 20, as production problems plagued North Sea oil supplies and as traders bet that European governments would release fewer barrels than expected under a global injection of emergency stocks that has failed to tame prices.
US government data released on Thursday showed crude oil inventories fell by just 889,000 barrels last week. That decline was less than forecast and well below the 3.2 million barrel drawdown in an industry report on Tuesday.
US stocks closed sharply higher and the Nasdaq notched an eighth day of gains on Thursday as improved labour market and retail sales data added to optimism a day before the critical June payrolls report.
The euro gained against the dollar on Thursday, snapping two days of declines, after ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet said the central bank would relax rules and continue to provide liquidity to Portugal, helping allay worries about Europe's debt crisis.
Standard Bank on Thursday raised its forecast for North Sea Brent crude oil futures in 2012 by $5 per barrel to $120, saying abundant liquidity in the financial system should support commodities next year.
Iran is exporting oil to India, despite receiving no payment for months, to protect its market share from price-cutting competitors such as Saudi Arabia, its OPEC governor Mohammad Ali Khatibi said on Thursday.
Copyright Reuters, 2011