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NYMEX-Crude hits 2-month high near $100 a barrel

Thursday, 26 Dec 2013 | 7:00 PM ET

TOKYO, Dec 27 (Reuters) - U.S. crude futures hit a two-month high near $100 a barrel on Friday, supported by supply disruptions in Africa and a fall in U.S. jobless claims that rekindled hope for demand growth in the world's top oil consumer.

FUNDAMENTALS

* NYMEX crude for February delivery was up 17 cents at $99.72 a barrel by 2342 GMT, after settling up 33 cents at $99.55 on Thursday. It rose as high as $99.77 earlier, the highest since Oct. 21.

* Futures for U.S. gasoline and ultra low-sulfur diesel (ULSD), more commonly known as heating oil, both rose to more than three-month highs in intraday trading on Thursday as large French refineries remained offline due to strikes.

* London Brent crude for February delivery had yet to start trading. It settled up 8 cents on Thursday, after touching an intraday high of $112.12, the highest since Dec. 5.

* U.S. crude also drew support from jobs data showing the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level in nearly a month, a hopeful sign for the labor market in the world's top oil consumer.

* Supply outages in Africa are also in focus and added some geopolitical risk premium to prices. The government in South Sudan, which is threatened by civil war, has shut 45,000 bpd of production.

* Export terminals remain closed in Libya, where output was at 250,000 barrels per day, down from 1.4 million bpd in July.

MARKETS NEWS

* U.S. stocks rose on Thursday, with the Dow and S&P 500 ending at record highs as retail shares rallied following strong data about the holiday shopping season.

* The yen wallowed at five-year troughs against the dollar and euro on Friday, having fallen prey to a renewed appetite for risk which lifted Wall Street to record highs and weighed on the low yielding currency.

DATA/EVENTS

* The following data is expected on Friday: (Time in GMT)

- 1530 U.S. ECRI weekly

- 1600 U.S. EIA weekly oil data

(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Richard Pullin)