April 02, 2012

Crude Rises In Sluggish Trade; US Jobs Data In Focus

TOKYO (Dow Jones)--Crude-oil futures were slightly higher Monday in Asia, tracking modest gains in regional shares.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for delivery in May traded at $103.15 a barrel at 0610 GMT, up $0.13 in the Globex electronic session. May Brent crude on London's ICE Futures exchange rose $0.27 to $123.15 a barrel.
Trading was sluggish due to a lack of market-moving news, with market participants looking ahead to U.S. jobs data later this week, analysts said.
"Many folks want to check the U.S. jobs data to see if the economy is really recovering," said Koichiro Kamei, an analyst with the Market Strategy Institute in Tokyo.
"There has been very little news. It's hard to buy from here without some positive information," Kamei said.
Without any major change in crude fundamentals, economic indicators, equities and the U.S. dollar are likely to move crude-oil futures, said Hiroyuki Kikukawa, an analyst at broker Nihon Unicom.
Nymex's fundamentals have softened due to rising U.S. stockpiles, while Iran-related tensions and the Elgin gas leak are supporting Brent.
The spread between the front-month contracts for Brent and Nymex crudes may widen beyond $20/bbl this week, Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch & Associates, said in a note.
Nymex reformulated gasoline blendstock for May--the benchmark gasoline contract--rose 262 points to $3.3343 a gallon, while May heating oil traded at $3.1793, 92 points higher.
ICE gasoil for April changed hands at $1013.75 a metric ton, down $0.50 from Friday's settlement.
-By Mari Iwata

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