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Crude Oil Ends Higher On Data, Eurozone


U.S. crude oil settled marginally higher Wednesday, on some upbeat macroeconomic data from the U.S. and Europe, even as the political situation in Italy eased. Investors largely ignored an Energy Information Administration report that showed U.S. stockpiles to have increased lesser than expected last week.

Concerns over Italy eased somewhat after political parities began exploring possibilities of forming a government after initial rhetoric from various groups to the contrary.

Oil demand concerns also eased after pending home sales in the U.S. rebounded more than expected in January, a report from the National Association of Realtors showed Wednesday. Meanwhile, new orders for U.S. manufactured durable goods dropped more than expected in January, although orders actually rose much more than expected when excluding orders for transportation equipment. From Europe, an European Commission survey showed eurozone economic confidence to have improved for the fourth straight month in February.

Latest data from the EIA revealed U.S. crude oil inventories to have moved up 1.1 million barrels, while gasoline stocks shed 1.90 million barrels in the week ended February 22. Analysts expected crude oil inventories to add 2.5 million barrels and gasoline stocks to decline 1 million barrels last week.

Light Sweet Crude Oil futures for April delivery, the most actively traded contract, gained $0.13 or 0.1 percent, to close at $92.76 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange Wednesday.

Crude prices for April delivery scaled a high of $93.37 a barrel intraday and a low of $92.18.

Yesterday, oil settled at a near two-month low on demand concerns with the political deadlock in Italy fueling renewed concerns over recovery in the eurozone economy. Investors largely ignored some upbeat macroeconomic out of the U.S., where consumer confidence rose and new home sales rebounded.

The euro traded higher against the dollar at $1.3123 on Wednesday, as compared to $1.3061 late Tuesday in North America. The euro scaled a high of $1.3136 intraday and a low of $1.3042.

The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. unit against six major currencies, traded at 81.70 on Wednesday, down from 81.85 late Tuesday in North American trade. The dollar scaled a high of 81.92 intraday and a low of 81.50.

In economic news from the U.S., the Commerce Department said durable goods orders tumbled by 5.2 percent in January after jumping by a revised 3.7 percent in December. Economists had expected orders to fall by 4.0 percent compared to the 4.3 percent increase that had been reported for the previous month. Nevertheless, excluding the sharp drop in orders for transportation equipment, durable goods orders actually rose by 1.9 percent in January compared to a 1.0 percent increase in December. Ex-transportation orders had been expected to edge up by 0.2 percent.

Pending home sales in the U.S. rebounded more than expected in January, a report from the National Association of Realtors indicated Wednesday. The NAR pending home sales index rose by 4.5 percent to 105.9 in January after falling 1.9 percent to 101.3 in December. Economists expected the index to increase by 3.0 percent.

Eurozone economic confidence improved for the fourth straight month in February, survey data from the European Commission showed. The economic sentiment index came in at 91.1, up from 89.5 in the prior month. The reading stayed above the consensus forecast of 89.9.

Confidence among German households is set to improve for the second straight month in March, with expectations turning more optimistic as the financial crisis in the euro area is calming down, fueling hopes that recovery will gather momentum in the early months of the year, a monthly survey revealed. The results of a forward-looking survey by the GfK showed that the consumer confidence index based on the survey will rise to 5.9 in March from 5.8 in February, marking the second consecutive monthly growth. The projection is in line with economists' forecast.

The British economy contracted 0.3 percent quarter-on-quarter in the fourth quarter, unrevised from the previous estimate, the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics showed. The third quarter GDP figures were revised up to show a 1 percent growth for the period compared to 0.9 percent growth reported initially.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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