Oil futures rebound, but losses for quarter loom

Oil futures gain 93 cents a barrel in US to close at $82.14. Brent crude oil futures rise to nearly $104 a barrel.

Shannon Stapleton/Reuters/File
A trader works in the crude oil and natural gas options pit on the floor of the New York Mercantile Exchange in New York last month. US crude oil futures rose Sept. 29, 2011, but they are down for the quarter.

Oil rose Thursday, following an initial rebound in broader markets after Germany's lower house approved new powers for the euro zone's crisis fund and U.S. economic data beat expectations.

Germany's support for a beefed-up bailout fund for Europe's troubled economies, and data showing that the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 1.3 percent in the second quarter, helped push oil higher.

But prices remained on track for big losses this quarter as concerns about the global economy continue to weigh. Oil fell 3 percent on Wednesday.

``Oil is being battered back and forth by changing perceptions about how the economy is going to do in the next year or so and there's no clear answer,'' said Gene McGillian, analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.

Brent crude oil futures for November rose 14 cents to settle at $103.95 a barrel. U.S. crude oil futures gained 93 cents to settle at $82.14 a barrel.

Brent was poised for a quarterly decline of about 8 percent, while U.S. crude has fallen about 14 percent this quarter, the sharpest drop since the last quarter of 2008.

The spread between Brent and U.S. crude narrowed to $21.81 from $22.60 on Wednesday, as a resumption of Libyan oil exports pressured London crude. The premium hit a record $27.23 on Sept. 6.

``Seeing Libyan oil come back in the market is a factor in why the Brent-WTI spread is back under $22,'' McGillian said.

Wall Street fell as U.S. Labor Department data that showed promising jobs data failed to outweigh economic concern.

The euro rose against the dollar in choppy trade.

The general outlook for oil and economic growth was less positive, with slowing global output and the prospect of declining fuel consumption weighing on the market.

U.S. July oil demand fell nearly 4 percent year-on-year, data from the Department of Energy showed, a sign of the effect that a weak economy can have on oil consumption.

Morgan Stanley has slashed its forecast for Brent by $30 to $100 a barrel for 2012, citing rising output from Libya and the weak economic outlook.

Brent should fall to $100 by the end of 2011 and could drop as low as $85 a barrel in the first half of next year before tighter balances and slow growth send it closer to $110, the bank said.

Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs had been among the most bullish of the major banks, forecasting $130 a barrel for 2012.

Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao says Brent has resumed a medium-term downtrend and should move towards a range of $98.74 to $100 per barrel.

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