UPDATE 9-Oil jumps as Turkey-Syria tensions offset growth worry
* Escalating Turkey-Syria conflict poses supply risk
* Saudi oil minister wants to see Brent fall towards $100
* IMF cuts global growth forecast
* Iraq's oil exports up, output may double by 2020
* Coming up: API oil data 4:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday
(Recasts, updates prices, market activity)
By Robert Gibbons
NEW YORK, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Oil prices jumped on Tuesday, snapping a string of two lower settlements, as the threat of supply disruption in a tense Middle East countered concerns about slower growth and resulting sluggish demand for oil.
While escalating turmoil on the border of Turkey and Syria lifted Brent more than 2 percent and U.S. crude futures more than 3 percent, surging U.S. gasoline
and strong heating oil
futures also lent support to crude.
NATO said on Tuesday it had drawn up plans to defend Turkey if necessary against any further spillover of violence from Syria's border areas where rebels and government forces are fighting for control.
"It's a political risk premium coming into the market now, not really supported by fundamental data," said Andy Sommer, oil market analyst with EGL in Switzerland.
"If you look at the demand side, prices should be a bit lower than they are currently. But the risk, or fear, that this Turkey-Syria conflict might spread further in the Arab world is increasing that risk premium."
Brent November crude
rose $2.38 to $114.20 a barrel by 12:58 p.m. EDT (1658 GMT), having reached $114.55, highest since Sept. 18.
The increase pushed Brent back above the 200-day moving average of $112.18 and the 50-day moving average of $112.68, key technical levels watched by chart-watching traders.
U.S. November crude
was up $2.82 at $92.15 a barrel, after reaching $92.42 and moving back above the 100-day moving average of $89.86.
The U.S. crude strength reduced its deficit to Brent
, after Brent's premium moved above $23 a barrel intraday. Delays in the October loading of North Sea Forties cargoes and the Middle East uncertainties have helped push Brent's premium to its highest since October 2011.
U.S. RBOB gasoline futures
jumped more than 2 percent, continuing to be lifted by tight gasoline supply in the U.S. East Coast region combined with seasonal and unplanned work curbing refinery capacity utilization.
Gasoline reached $2.9825 a gallon Tuesday, back above the 200-day moving average of $2.9745 for front-month RBOB and within sight of the November contract's peak of $2.9913.
"Oil product inventories are also an issue for the market," said Tim Evans, energy analyst at Citi Futures Perspective, commenting on why U.S. crude prices outpaced Brent's rise in midday trading in New York.
"Gasoline inventories nationally are barely above the level of September the 21st, which was the lowest since October 2008."
ESCALATING MIDDLE EAST TENSIONS
Rebel suicide bombers struck an Air Force Intelligence compound on the edge of Damascus, insurgents said, delivering another blow to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul said on Monday the "worst-case scenarios" were now playing out in Syria and that Turkey would do everything necessary to protect itself.
The turmoil in Syria has reinforced concerns about supply security already raised by the ongoing dispute between Iran and Israel and the West over Tehran's controversial nuclear program.
The dispute has led to tough U.S.-led sanctions on Iran and a European Union (EU) ban on importing Iranian crude.
The geopolitical tensions countered concerns about slowing economic growth reinforced when the International Monetary Fund cut its global growth forecast for the second time since April.
Oil prices also were tempered briefly on Tuesday when Saudi Arabia reiterated its intention to keep high oil prices from harming a sputtering global economy.
OPEC's top producer is likely to continue pumping crude at a 30-year high around 10 million barrels per day (bpd) through October, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said, helping compensate for curbed exports from sanctions-hampered Iran.
Naimi said oil prices were still too high and Riyadh would like Brent to fall closer to $100 a barrel.
More supply is also on the way from neighbouring Iraq, OPEC's second-biggest producer after Saudi. Exports this month are expected to rise above 2.8 million bpd, the highest in decades, and efforts are underway to more than double output by 2020.
24-Hour Brent chart: 24-hour U.S. crude chart: IMF revises growth forecasts:
(Additional reporting by Peg Mackey and Alice Baghdjian in London and Ramya Venugopal in Singapore; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Sofina Mirza-Reid)
Keywords: MARKETS OIL/