Oil rose for a third straight session, with global benchmark crude prices settling at their highest in almost three weeks, buoyed in part by third-quarter growth in the U.S. economy.
West Texas Intermediate crude for December delivery
rose $1.17, or 1.3%, to settle at $89.08 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange following gains in each of the past two trading sessions. The settlement was the highest for a front-month contract since Oct. 13, according to Dow Jones Market DAta.
December Brent crude
the global benchmark, was up $1.27, or 1.3%, at $96.96 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, the highest since Oct. 7. January Brent
rose $1.25, or 1.3%, to $95.04 a barrel.
November natural gas
declined by 7.5% at $5.186 per million British thermal units on its expiration day. December natural gas
which became the front month at the end of the session, settled at $5.875, down 4%.
“Crude prices are again trending higher in what is shaping up to be a bullish week overall,” said Robbie Fraser, manager, global research & analytics at Schneider Electric, in a daily note.
Benchmark crude futures have been “supported by macroeconomic data that showed moderate” U.S. GDP annual growth of 2.6% in the third quarter, he said.
Even so, Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA, said gains for oil are capped as the key takeaway from Thursday’s “swathe of economic readings is that an economic slowdown is here.”
Orders at U.S. factories for long-lasting goods in September rose 0.4%, but that increase was smaller than the 0.7% gain forecast by economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.
Oil built on gains from the previous session even though Energy Information Administration data on Wednesday showed a large jump in U.S. crude inventories, but the rise was smaller than reported by an industry trade group. Supplies of gasoline fell, while U.S. crude exports jumped.
“Exports were up 991,000 to an all-time record 5.129 million [barrels a day]. The big increase in exports is another reason for crude oil to rally after the storage report,” said Robert Yawger, executive director of energy futures at Mizuho Securities, in a note.
Analysts also tied crude gains on Wednesday to an overall pullback by the U.S. dollar. The dollar’s breakneck rally this year has at times acted as a weight on commodities, making them more expensive to users of other currencies.
The dollar headed higher on Thursday, with the ICE U.S. Dollar Index
a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, up 0.7%, but still down 1.4% for the week.
Also on Thursday, the EIA reported that domestic natural-gas supplies rose by 52 billion cubic feet for the week ended Oct. 21. That compared with a market forecast for an increase of 61 billion cubic feet, according to an estimate from the Dow Jones economic calendar.