Brent crude rises over $111 on stimulus hopes

Brent crude rises over $111 on stimulus hopes

London: Brent crude oil rose above $111 per barrel on Tuesday as expectations of a US economic stimulus outweighed fears of recession and worries over the euro zone debt crisis.

A surprise move by the Swiss National Bank (SNB) to set a minimum exchange rate target of 1.20 francs to the euro also helped support oil as it boosted the European currency.

Gold fell sharply after the SNB move, after hitting a new record above $1,900 an ounce

Brent futures for October climbed $1.13 to $111.21 a barrel by 4:10pm. US crude traded around $84.85 a barrel, down from Friday’s close at $86.45. The contract had no settlement on Monday due to the US Labour Day holiday.

“Prices are being supported by hopes there will be another economic stimulus," said Carsten Fritsch, commodities analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt. “But there is a big risk to the downside in this market. The economy is slowing and it is not clear how the United States will pay for another stimulus."

Olivier Jakob, managing director of consultants Petromatrix said the shock SNB move was offering extra support to oil.

“The euro is surging versus the Swiss Franc, which in turn is providing some support on the euro versus the dollar, and in our opinion this has in turn pushed some automated computer buying in crude oil," Jakob said.

A raft of economic data over the last month have pointed to a sharp deceleration of global economic growth and raised the risk of a “double-dip" recession.

Singapore finance minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said on Tuesday another recession was more likely than not as the US and European economies were at “stall" speed.

Economic activity is slowing worldwide, data suggest, and a senior Chinese official said on Tuesday that China’s economic growth may fall below 9% in 2012.

Oil prices gained some extra support from supply concerns.

A major oilfield in China was closed due to leaks, which analysts expect will reduce Chinese state oil producer CNOOC’s total output by about 2 percent this year and increase Chinese crude imports.

China’s State Oceanic Administration ordered the PL19-3 oilfield in the northern Bohai Bay, owned and operated by CNOOC and ConocoPhillips , to cease operations because the US firm had failed to seal a leak for more than two months, CNOOC said on Monday.

More than half the crude production in the US Gulf of Mexico remains shut due to Tropical Storm Lee, which is hindering efforts to restaff and restart oil and gas platforms in the basin.

Another hurricane, Katia, powered up to a major Category 4 storm on Monday, but was expected to veer away from the US East Coast later this week, avoiding a direct hit on a seaboard already battered by Hurricane Irene.

In Libya, where 1.6 million barrels per day of crude production remain offline, more signs emerged that the country’s conflict could be nearing a resolution.

Scores of Libyan army vehicles have crossed the desert frontier into Niger in what may be a secretly negotiated bid by Moammar Gadhafi to seek refuge in a friendly African state, military sources from France and Niger said.