NYMEX-Crude ends week higher on economic optimism

* Conference Board, ICRI data show recovery taking hold

* Tax cut bill passage seen supportive to oil demand

* Northeast seen colder than earlier expected

* Coming up: API weekly oil inventory data Tuesday

NEW YORK, Dec 17 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. crude oil futures ended
the week higher on Friday on economic optimism after two
closely watched indicators showed that the recovery was
gathering steam, outweighing concerns about euro zone fiscal
troubles.

Passage in the U.S. Congress of a tax cut bill late
Thursday was supportive for the energy markets as it would put
more money into consumers’ pockets and that was seen boding
well for oil demand, analysts and traders said.

U.S. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law late
on Friday. [ID:nWEN4682]

Refinery troubles that affected the East Coast gasoline
market lifted gasoline futures, which rebounded from a small
loss on Thursday and ended the week higher. For a listing of
U.S. refinery snags, see [REF/OUT]

Heating oil futures edged lower in choppy trading, despite
a shift in forecasts calling for colder weather than earlier
forecast in the Northeast, the top heating oil market. For the
week, however, heating oil futures gained.

FUNDAMENTALS

* On the New York Mercantile Exchange, January crude (CLF1: )
settled up 32 cents, or 0.36 percent, at $88.02 a barrel,
trading from $87.01 to $88.52.

* For the week, front month crude (CLc1: ) ended up 23 cents,
or 0.26 percent, after posting a loss the week before.

* NYMEX January heating oil (HOF1: ) fell slightly but closed
the week up 1.88 cents, or 0.77 percent, after losing in the
previous week.

* The heating oil crack spread (CL-HO1=R: ) ended at $15.88,
down from Thursday’s $16.30.

* NYMEX January RBOB (RBF1: ) settled higher, finishing the
week up 0.85 cent, 0.37 percent, after dipping the prior week.

* New front month ICE Brent February crude (LCOG1: ) ended
slightly higher. For the week, front month Brent (LCOc1: ) rose
$1.19, or 1.32 percent, after losing in previous week.

* Brent’s front-month premium over U.S. WTI (CL-LC01=R: )
fell to $3.07, from Thursday’s $3.58, which was a seven-month
high.

* Money managers raised their net long crude oil futures
positions to a record high 193,048 contracts in the week to
Dec. 14, from 191,171 the week before, according to the
Commodity Futures Trading Commission. [ID:nN17292930]

* The Conference Board’s measure of leading economic
indicators jumped 1.1 percent in November, the biggest rise
since March and the fifth straight monthly gain. Separately,
the Economic Cycle Research Institute said its gauge of future
growth rose to its highest level since May. [ID: nN17101124]

* U.S. crude oil demand rose 6.5 percent in November
compared to a year ago, the highest monthly increase of the
year thus far, the American Petroleum Institute said.
[ID:nNLLHNE6Q7]

* Gasoline demand rose for the third consecutive month
while demand for distillates, which include heating oil and
diesel fuel, gained for the 10th month in a row, the API said.

* The U.S. Northeast will turn colder late next week and
into the last week of December than previously forecast,
according to weather data released on Friday by Point Carbon, a
Thomson Reuters company that provides natural gas and power
analysis. [ID:nN1790640]

* North Korea said on Friday it would strike again at the
South if a live-firing drill by Seoul on a disputed island went
ahead, with an even stronger response than last month’s
shelling that killed four people. [ID:nL3E6NH0JY]

MARKETS NEWS

* The euro slid for a second straight week against the
dollar after a multi-notch downgrade of Ireland’s credit rating
affirmed the severity of the euro zone debt crisis. Ratings
agency Moody’s Investors Services slashed Ireland’s credit
rating by five notches with a negative outlook. [USD/]

* The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (.SPX : ) and the Nasdaq
Composite Index (.IXIC: ) ended slightly higher and the Dow Jones
industrial average (.DJI: ) dipped, with investors predicting a
pause as trading volume dries up on Christmas week. For the
week, all three indexes ended higher. [.N]

* Copper closed higher, notching its third consecutive week
of gains on short-term technical momentum and bullish demand
prospects from China. [ID:nLDE6BG0V4]

UPCOMING DATA/EVENTS

* There are no major economic indicators on Monday.

SETTLE NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT DAY AGO

CHNG CHNG VOL VOL
CLc1 88.02 0.32 0.4% 87.01 88.52 107,777 221,145
CLc2 88.60 0.20 0.2% 87.71 89.20 210,241 177,355
LCOc1 91.67 0.07 0.1% 90.90 92.39 106,821 20,779
RBc1 2.3178 0.0135 0.6% 2.2945 2.3443 24,552 37,128
RBc2 2.3125 0.0112 0.5% 2.2903 2.3374 27,525 33,733
HOc1 2.4737 -0.0026 -0.1% 2.4635 2.5025 31,254 50,512
HOc2 2.4855 0.0010 0.0% 2.4718 2.5110 27,375 32,586
TOTAL MARKET VOLUME OPEN INTEREST

CURRENT Dec 16 30D AVG Dec 16 NET CHNG
CRUDE 554,416 657,203 675,991 1,370,049 20,535
RBOB 74,391 101,305 123,268 270,261 1,720
HO 82,920 119,531 107,873 306,683 2,496
(Reporting by Gene Ramos and Robert Gibbons; Editing by Walter
Bagley)

NYMEX-Crude ends week higher on economic optimism