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Crude Oil Ends Higher On Encouraging U.S. Economic Data

U.S. crude oil futures rallied to close higher Monday, on some positive U.S. economic data on manufacturing sector activity, while the dollar turned lower paring early gains against a basket of major currencies.

Light Sweet Crude Oil futures for May delivery, gained $2.21 or 2.2 percent to close at $105.23 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange Monday.

Crude prices scaled a high of $105.49 a barrel intraday and a low of $102.06.

Crude oil prices were near its 6-week low earlier in the day on concerns of demand growth amid speculation about strategic-supply releases.

The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. unit against six major currencies, traded at 78.843 on Monday, down from 78.973 in North American trade late Friday. The dollar scaled a high of 79.13 intraday, with a low of 78.79.

Nonetheless, the euro was trading lower against the dollar at $1.3334 on Monday, as compared to $1.3341 late Friday. The euro had scaled a high of $1.3380 intraday with a low of $1.3276.

In economic news, the U.S. the Institute for Supply Management said its index of activity in the manufacturing sector climbed to 53.4 in March from 52.4 in February, with a reading above 50 indicating growth in the sector. Economists had expected the index to edge up to a reading of 53.0.

Simultaneously, the Commerce Department estimated overall U.S. construction spending at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of $808.9 billion, a 1.1 percent drop from revised January estimates. That marks the largest drop in overall construction spending since July 2011. Initial figures which had shown a 0.1 percent drop-off in construction spending in January, were revised further down to a 0.8 percent decline.

Elsewhere, the eurozone manufacturing downturn worsened as initially estimated in March, as per final data from Markit Economics. The Purchasing Managers' Index dropped to 47.7 in March, a three month low, from 49 in the previous month. The final reading matched flash estimate.

Meanwhile, unemployment rate in the eurozone rose to a new record high in February, data from Eurostat showed. The seasonally adjusted jobless rate rose to 10.8 percent from 10.7 percent in January. The outcome was in line with economists' forecast. The rate was 10 percent in February 2011.

A separate report from the Markit Economics showed that German manufacturing sector contraction in March was less severe than estimated earlier. The seasonally adjusted Markit/BME purchasing managers' index dropped to 48.4 in March from 50.2 in February.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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