Brent crude rose above $114 a barrel yesterday on better-than-expected retail sales in the world's top oil consumer, the United States, and investor speculation that European leaders could soon reach a rescue deal on the Eurozone debt crisis.
November Brent crude rose $3.07 to $114.18 a barrel by 1449 GMT on the day of its expiry, having risen in seven of the past eight sessions. The December contract was also stronger yesterday but stood at a $2 discount to November.
US crude was up $2.39 at $86.62 a barrel.
Retail sales in the US rebounded at their fastest pace in seven months last month as consumers shook off some of their concerns about stock market drops and political gridlock, potentially giving new momentum to the weak economic recovery. "It's a sentiment thing and this comes on top of better US jobs data. People are clinging onto any positive news," said Andrey Kryuchenkov, oil and commodities analyst at VTB Capital.
France and Germany reaffirmed their commitment to a recent deal between their two leaders to combat the Eurozone crisis and protect the euro currency, the finance ministers of both countries said yesterday.
Prices also received support from a dip in Chinese inflation to 6.1 per cent in September, indicating the country's central bank may at last put on hold further tightening of its monetary policy that has slowed economic growth and fuel consumption.
Less price pressures may allow the Chinese central bank to look at easing monetary policy, said Jeremy Friesen, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Societe Generale. "If that helps consumer spending and prevents a slowdown in construction, it would be positive for global commodities," he added. Supply disruptions in Nigeria and the North Sea as well as still irregular exports from Libya have cut global output of some of the best quality light, sweet oil so far this quarter.
The dollar was slightly lower and is down more than 2 per cent from the start of the week, giving a boost to commodity prices across the board by making them cheaper for non-dollar buyers.
US crude oil stocks rose more than expected last week as imports rose but oil product inventories surprised with larger-than-expected drawdowns.
Opec tensions surface
Brent has risen 12 per cent since briefly dipping below the $100 a barrel level in early October. This has driven Brent to record highs versus the US benchmark.
Tensions between Opec members Saudi Arabia and Iran are also helping to support Brent by adding a political risk premium to prices, analysts said. "We knew they were not good friends and now there's a new struggle," said Eugen Weinberg, head of commodities research at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.