WTI Oil Rises to Near Five-Week High on Economic Rebound

West Texas Intermediate advanced to trade near its highest level in five weeks amid signs of economic recovery in the U.S., the world’s biggest oil consumer.

Futures climbed as much as 0.8 percent. Orders for U.S. durable goods rose more than forecast in February, propelled by automobiles and a rebound in commercial aircraft. Sales of new homes posted the best back-to-back performance in four years, economists said before data today. WTI slipped earlier on estimates that U.S. crude stockpiles increased by 1.4 million barrels to 384.1 million last week, the highest since June.

“The U.S. is showing signs of improving,” said Thina Saltvedt, an analyst at Nordea Bank AG in Oslo. “We will see the momentum in the world economy reach a bottom in the second quarter, and then increase, which should be positive for oil the oil demand outlook.”

WTI for May delivery climbed as much as 80 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $95.61 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, and was at $95.52 as of 12:36 p.m. in London. The volume of all futures traded was in line with the 100-day average for the time of day. The contract rose as high as $95.65 yesterday, its strongest intraday level since Feb. 20.

Brent for May settlement rose 5 cents to $108.22 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The volume of all futures traded was 45 percent above the 100-day average. Prices are down 2.6 percent in 2013. The European benchmark crude’s premium to WTI was at $12.76. It closed at $13.36 yesterday, the lowest closing level since July.

U.S. Supplies

Bookings for goods meant to last at least three years rose 5.7 percent, the most since September, after a 3.8 percent drop the prior month, a Commerce Department report showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 80 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 3.9 percent advance. Figures on capital goods pointed to a pickup in business spending this quarter.

A separate release at 9 a.m. New York time will show that house prices in 20 American cities advanced 7.9 percent on average in the 12 months through January, another Bloomberg survey showed. That would be the S&P/Case-Shiller index’s largest increase since June 2006.

FACTS Global Energy Inc. forecast that crude will drop by as much as $40 a barrel by 2015 or 2016 and sell at $80 to $90 a barrel by the end of the decade, the consultant’s chairman, Fereidun Fesharaki, said today at an industry conference in Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates. Prices will fall on increased output, production of liquid fuels from shale in the U.S., and greater use of natural gas, he said.

U.S. gasoline stockpiles probably slid by 1 million barrels last week to 221.8 million, according to the Bloomberg survey taken before the report by the Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department’s statistical arm.

Crude Output

Inventories of distillate fuel, a category that includes heating oil and diesel, probably fell 1 million barrels to 118.8 million, the Bloomberg survey showed. A decline of that size would leave supplies at the lowest level since December.

The industry-funded American Petroleum Institute is scheduled to release separate inventory data today. The API collects stockpile information on a voluntary basis from operators of refineries, bulk terminals and pipelines. The government requires that reports be filed with the EIA for its weekly survey.

“Prices have come down to more realistic levels and we expect them to remain here,” said Filip Petersson, a commodities strategist at Stockholm-based SEB AB, who predicts that Brent, the European benchmark, will average $107.50 a barrel during the second quarter.

Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the world’s biggest crude exporter, expects to become the top producer of refined products, Khalid al-Falih, its chief executive officer, said today in Beijing.

The company known as Saudi Aramco is expanding refining to meet domestic demand and export products that fetch higher prices than crude. It plans to double its global refining capacity to 8 million barrels a day in 10 years, al-Falih, the company’s CEO, said in January 2012.

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