U.S. crude oil pared early losses to end higher for a fourth consecutive day Friday, on some positive data from the U.S. and after the IEA played down news reports of any release from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserves, while indicating that such actions were not warranted at this time. Oil prices earlier moved into negative territory, reacting to reports that the U.S. was considering a release from its strategic oil reserves.
Investor sentiments strengthened after some soothing data out of the U.S. which showed consumer confidence to have unexpectedly improved in August, while the current economic conditions index also climbed.
Light Sweet Crude Oil futures for September delivery gained $0.41 or 0.4 percent to close at $96.01 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange Friday.
Crude prices scaled a high of $96.16 a barrel intraday and a low of $94.98.
For the week, oil gained an impressive 3.4 percent.
Oil extended its three-month high to settle above $95 yesterday, on supply concerns with tension brewing in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia advised its citizens to get out of Lebanon and Israel indicating willingness to strike Iran's nuclear facilities. Oil prices were also supported by a weak dollar.
The euro traded lower against the dollar at $1.2320 on Friday, as compared to $1.2357 late Thursday in North America. The euro scaled a high of $1.2381 intraday and a low of $1.2290.
The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. unit against six major currencies, traded at 82.62 on Friday, up from 82.39 in North American trade late Thursday. The dollar scaled a high of 82.76 intraday and a low of 82.32.
In economic news, U.S. consumer confidence unexpectedly improved in August following increased jitters earlier this summer. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary August index of consumer sentiment increased to 73.6 from 72.3 last month. This was the highest level since May, defying market expectations for a reading of 72.2.
The current economic conditions index climbed to 87.6 from 82.7, but the survey's measure of consumer expectations slipped to 64.5 from 65.6, indicating consumers expect to be thrifty in the coming months.
Eurozone foreign trade surplus increased in June, data released by Eurostat showed. The trade surplus rose to 14.9 billion euros in June from 7.1 billion euros in May. A year ago, the balance was in a surplus of 0.2 billion euros.
Earlier today, data from the Federal Statistics Office revealed German producer price inflation eased to 0.9 percent in July from 1.6 percent in June. Economists expected the rate to ease to 1.2 percent. A year ago, the rate of inflation was 2.1 percent.
Spanish banks' bad loans reached its highest on record in June, the Bank of Spain reported Friday. Bad loans rose to 9.42 percent of total lending in June, compared to 8.95 percent in May. Non-performing loans increased 8.4 billion euros in June, to 164.4 billion euros. The property market crash as well as Spain's record high unemployment rate in the euro area were responsible for the bad loans.
by RTT Staff Writer
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