Oil higher in Asia on US data
Posted on 11 months ago
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for August delivery, was 30 cents higher at $80.51 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for August delivery was one cent up at $93.51.
Data released Wednesday by the US National Association of Realtors showed pending home sales in the United States returned to March's two-year high in May, rebounding from an April plunge.
Crude prices are heavily influenced by US data as the American economy is the world's largest oil consumer.
The industry group said its index of pending home sales, or contracts signed but not closed, rose 5.9 percent to 101.1 in May. An index level of 100 generally indicates a healthy pace.
"The US housing market is proving to be an unlikely saviour for eurozone-jaded traders this week with more positive data," said Justin Harper, Singapore-based market strategist with IG Markets. Meanwhile, a continuing strike by oil workers in Norway, the world's eighth-biggest exporter, also boosted crude prices, analysts said. More than 700 oil workers went on strike Sunday after pension negotiations broke down.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has reopened an old oil pipeline built by Iraq to bypass Gulf shipping lanes, giving Riyadh scope to export more of its crude from Red Sea terminals should Iran try to block the Strait of Hormuz, industry sources say.
The Iraqi Pipeline in Saudi Arabia (IPSA), laid across the kingdom in the 1980s after oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf by both sides during the Iran-Iraq war, has not carried Iraqi crude since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990. Saudi Arabia confiscated the pipeline in 2001 to compensate for debts owed by Baghdad and has used it to transport gas to power plants in the west of the country in the last few years.
Iran in January threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for U.S. and European sanctions that target its oil revenues in a bid to stop Iran's nuclear program.
A European Union ban on Iran's oil starts on Sunday and Israel has threatened military action against Iranian nuclear facilities if Iranian talks with Western powers fail to stop uranium enrichment.
Alarmed, Saudi Arabia has now quietly reconditioned IPSA to carry crude, test pumping along the line over the last four to five months, several sources with knowledge of the project say.
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