Wires

UPDATE 2-Brent hovers above $115, eyes best week in two months

Share

* Turkey-Syria tensions, lower N.Sea output support

* WTI-Brent spread at widest in a year

* BP to export U.S. crude to Canada, Shell seeks permit

* Coming up: China commodity imports on Oct. 13

(Updates prices) By Florence Tan

SINGAPORE, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Brent crude held above $115 abarrel on Friday, trading near four-week highs and on course forits biggest weekly gain in two months, supported by tensionsbetween Turkey and Syria, lower output at North Sea oilfieldsand upbeat U.S. data.

U.S. jobless claims last week fell to the lowest level inmore than four years, brightening the economic outlook for theworld's largest oil consumer after forecasts of slower globalgrowth from the IMF and World Bank earlier this week.

Brent November crude had eased 25 cents to $115.46 abarrel by 0637 GMT, but was up more than 3 percent for the weekso far, its biggest weekly gain since August.

U.S. crude was up 18 cents at $92.25, and set to postits first weekly gain in four weeks.

The price spread between the two benchmarks isat its widest in a year as supply risks spurred Brent prices.

"Crude is responding positively to the U.S. economic dataand ongoing tensions in the Middle East are adding to supplyconcerns," said Tim Waterer, a senior trader at CMC GlobalMarkets in Sydney.

Turkey grounded a Syrian plane on Thursday, ratcheting uptensions between the two countries that could spread in theMiddle East, sparking fears of potential oil supply disruptionfrom the region.

"Even though Syria and Turkey do not produce a lot of oil,market participants are worried that tensions could spread tosome of the major producers," ANZ analysts said in a note.

The port of Ceyhan, through which 400,000 barrels per day ofIraqi crude flows, is located south of Turkey.

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

Maintenance at North Sea oilfields has also reduced outputand supported Brent prices.

In the United States, crude oil stocks rose 1.67 millionbarrels last week, twice as much as expected, but a steep dropin distillate stocks and a less dramatic slip in gasoline stockskept concerns about tight fuel supplies in focus.

Oil major BP Plc has secured U.S. governmentpermission to ship U.S. crude oil to Canada, and Royal DutchShell has applied for an export license, as risingproduction in the world's top oil consumer upends global energyflows.

"This will significantly alter the oil market dynamics inthe coming years as U.S. crude imports are expected to declineand exports to rise," said Ryoma Furumi, a commodity salesmanager at Newedge Japan.

"If exports start rolling out in full force, WTI couldregain its ground against Brent."

(Editing by Manolo Serapio Jr. and Miral Fahmy)

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

Keywords: MARKETS OIL/