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Markets

Brent eases as awaits economic news, oil data

LONDON : Brent oil eased on Thursday, falling from its highest in a month, ahead of news from the heads of the European
08 Sep 2011

 LONDON: Brent oil eased on Thursday, falling from its highest in a month, ahead of news from the heads of the European and US central banks, a jobs package from the US president and weekly oil inventory data.

Analysts said the focus was firmly on macroeconomic news and its implications for fuel demand, with modest support provided by the possibility of further storm disruption to oil and gas infrastructure in the United States.

"Oil prices are in the hands of macro financial developments interrupted by occasional local developments," said David Hufton, managing director of PVM Oil Associates in London.

"Ben Bernanke speaks this afternoon and President Obama this evening and in the Gulf Coast tropical storms are rolling in thick and fast."

Brent crude slipped 19 cents to $115.61 a barrel by 0952 GMT. Earlier it touched a session low of $114.74.

That compared with a peak on Wednesday of $116.50, Brent's highest since early August. It settled above its 100-day moving average, a technical indicator that had capped the market since August.

US crude gained 3 cents to $89.37 a barrel.

Thursday's easing in the oil price was in line with caution on other markets as the European Central Bank was expected to call a halt to interest rate rises to help countries weather the euro-zone crisis, while the weakness of the US economy, the world's biggest oil consumer, will be addressed later in the day.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will speak first, followed by US President Barack Obama, who is expected to lay out a plan to spur job creation, with implications for spending power and possibly for fuel demand.

Potentially offsetting nervousness about the US economy, anything that could weaken the US dollar might spur buying of dollar-denominated commodities, made relatively attractive to non-dollar buyers.

Some analysts have also said this week's decision by the Swiss National Bank to cap its soaring currency could help to drive investors, fast running out of traditional safe havens, into oil.

The US government's Energy Information Administration will on Thursday deliver its latest snapshot of oil demand and inventory levels -- a day later than usual because of Monday's Labor Day holiday in the United States.

A Reuters poll anticipated an increase in crude stocks following tropical storm disruption that shut in refinery capacity.

Three further storms -- Nate, Maria and Hurricane Katia -- could threaten Mexico's Bay of Campeche, Puerto Rico and the US East Coast.

Katia has weakened significantly in the last two days, but was still a hurricane with 80 mph (130 kph) winds, making it a Category 1 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson intensity scale.

 

Copyright Reuters, 2011