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Brent crude rises toward $115 as Mideast tensions support

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* Turkey, Syria fighting continues; Mideast tensions supportoil

* EIA, OPEC cut global oil demand growth forecasts aseconomy slows

* U.S. crude stockpiles up more than expected - API * Coming Up: EIA weekly oil inventories data; 1430 GMT By Florence Tan

SINGAPORE, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Brent crude climbed toward$115 a barrel on Thursday as rising tensions in the Middle Eaststoked supply fears, keeping prices less than a dollar away fromtheir highest in almost a month, although forecasts of lowerdemand capped gains.

November Brent crude rose 52 cents to $114.85 abarrel by 0319 GMT after a volatile session on Wednesday thatsaw the contract rising to $115.59, its highest since Sept. 17,before settling down slightly.

U.S. crude edged up 34 cents to $91.59 after droppingmore than 1 percent in the previous session. Alarger-than-expected rise in U.S. crude inventories weighed onprices.

"There's been fairly large price swings sideways for thepast two weeks or so," said Tony Nunan, a risk manager atMitsubishi Corp in Tokyo.

"We have a very weak economy so there are worries about oildemand growth while geopolitical issues keep the marketsupported."

Shelling along the Turkey-Syria border and continuedhostility between Iran and the West over Tehran's disputednuclear programme have reinforced fears about potential threatsto oil supplies from the Middle East Gulf.

"Geopolitical issues are going to keep prices on a boil inQ4," Nunan said, adding that this and maintenance at North SeaForties oil field will maintain a wide gap between the two oilbenchmarks.

Brent's premium to West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude

has risen to more than $23, its widest since October2011.

<^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Graphic on 24-hr Brent chart analysis Graphic on WTI-Brent spread ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>

Yet, forecasts of slower economic and fuel demand growth inthe world were keeping oil prices from rising further.

Global oil demand is looking weaker than previously forecastas the slowing economy continues to weigh on consumption, theU.S. government and the Organization of the Petroleum ExportingCountries said in their monthly report.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and OPECcut on Wednesday their forecasts for growth in world oil demandin 2013, a day after the IMF cut its economic growth forecastsfor the second time since April.

China's annual economic growth probably slowed for a seventhstraight quarter in the July-September period to the weakestlevel since the depths of the global financial crisis, a Reuterspoll showed.

"It seems like it's going to be a long hard slog in thiseconomic malaise," Nunan said.

"Seasonally we should get stronger demand in Q4 but thecaveat is, if the whole economy falls apart, it doesn't matter."

The EIA and OPEC reports are two of three major oil outlooksdue out this week, with the International Energy Agency torelease its October oil markets outlook on Friday.

In the United States, crude stocks rose 1.6 million barrelslast week, the industry group American Petroleum Institute saidon Wednesday, more than an 800,000-barrel build forecast byanalysts in a Reuters poll.

"U.S. crude stockpiles have been sitting higher than 5-yearranges since early September, weighing on sentiment," ANZanalysts said in a note.

The EIA will release its weekly inventory report later onThursday.

(Editing by Himani Sarkar)

((Florence.Tan@thomsonreuters.com)(+65 6870 3497)(ReutersMessaging: florence.tan.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: MARKETS OIL/