NYMEX-Crude rises, set for 2nd weekly gain as outlook improves
SINGAPORE, March 15 (Reuters) - U.S. crude futures rose in early Asian trade on Friday as a strong jobs data added to a string of positive numbers from the United States, fuelling hopes of an improvement in the outlook for demand in the world's top oil consumer.
The U.S. benchmark, set to post a second straight week of gains, rose 23 cents to $93.26 a barrel by 0023 GMT, after settling 51 cents higher.
Brent futures increased 45 cents to $109.41, after the April contract, which expired on Thursday, settled 90 cents higher. The contract is poised to put in its fourth weekly decline out of five weeks.
* The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits dropped for a third straight week last week, the latest indication the labor market recovery was gaining traction.
* As divisions over major reductions in federal budget deficits solidify, President Barack Obama and members of Congress on Thursday began weighing limited steps that might be brokered in a bipartisan deal later this year.
* South Sudan has ordered oil firms to restart production of crude oil for export through Sudan, the petroleum minister said on Thursday, more than a year after the new nation shut down the industry.
* The United States slapped financial sanctions on Thursday on a Greek businessman it says secretly operated a shipping network on behalf of the Iranian government to get around international sanctions on the country's sale of oil.
* The Dow rose for a 10th straight day and the S&P 500 advanced to just shy of an all-time closing high on Thursday in a global equity rally spurred by data that pointed to a stronger U.S. labor market and a steadily improving American economy.
* The rally in the U.S. dollar took a breather on Friday as sterling enjoyed a short squeeze, while the Australian dollar made the most of a barnstorming employment report at home.
* The following data is expected on Friday:
- 1000 Euro zone Euro zone labor costs
- 1230 U.S. Inflation
- 1230 U.S. New York Fed manufacturing
- 1300 U.S. Net capital flows
- 1315 U.S. Industrial output
- 1355 U.S. Univ of Michigan sentiment index
- 1930 U.S. CFTC commitment of traders data
(Reporting by Manash Goswami; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)