Oil climbs above $75 on Greece aid

By Rebekah Kebede

NEW YORK (BestGrowthStock) – Oil prices rose 1 percent to above $75 a barrel on Thursday as a pledge by European leaders to support Greece sparked investor interest in riskier assets.

U.S. crude for March delivery settled at $75.28 a barrel, up 76 cents. In London, Brent crude settled at $73.05 a barrel, up 51 cents.

“We posted our fourth consecutive day of gains and it looks like last week’s slide, based on the fears of what was going on in Europe, seems to be kind of abating slowly and today, we got a boost from better than expected jobless claims,” said Gene McGillian, analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.

Crude oil has posted a total of $4.09 or 5.7 percent in gains so far this week, the longest period of gains since December 22 through January 6, a 10-day period of gains when oil climbed $10.71 or 14.8 percent.

EU President Herman Van Rompuy announced an unprecedented deal to stave off a broader crisis in the 16-nation euro bloc on Thursday.

But markets remained concerned about whether the aid would be enough to pull Greece out of fiscal crisis, and the euro slipped against the U.S. dollar.(USD/: )

Stocks on Wall Street climbed, supported by European support for Greece as well as data showing that initial U.S. jobless claims fell more than expected last week. (.N: )

Commodities also rose broadly on the news about the Greek aid package. Copper hit a two-week high and gold rose more than 1 percent.

The Reuters-Jefferies CRB commodities index (.CRB: ), which, tracks the 19 most U.S.-traded futures markets, rose to a one-week high by 1900 GMT, up more than 1 percent.

DELAYED INVENTORY DATA

The oil market’s focus on Wall Street and the dollar may have been due, in part, to a delay in the U.S. weekly inventory data from the Energy Information Administration, which traders scour for clues on demand in the world’s top oil user.

“Part of the problem is very simple here. We have not had the Department of Energy (inventory data) out this week yet … and, as a result, what we’re seeing here is a lot of using the dollar and equities as a surrogate for oil information,” he said.

Weekly EIA data, normally released on Wednesday, was delayed until Friday due to snow in Washington. (EIA/S: )

A report from the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday showed crude inventories jumped by 7.2 million barrels to 337.6 million last week, against expectations of a rise of 1.5 million, and despite a drop in crude imports and weekly crude runs.

Gasoline inventories also rose more than expected, climbing 1.6 million barrels to 228.8 million, exceeding analyst estimates of a 500,000-barrel build. (API/S: )

Data from the International Energy Agency’s forecast for global oil demand growth for 2010 was also supportive, with the group raising its estimate by 120,000 barrels per day to 1.6 million bpd.

(Additional reporting by Gene Ramos and Robert Gibbons in New York, Christopher Johnson in London, Jennifer Tan in Singapore; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

Oil climbs above $75 on Greece aid