30 May 2009

Price of oil hits 6-month high

8:28 am on 30 May 2009

Oil rose in price to a six-month high above $US66 per barrel on Friday, after data suggested the economic downturn may be easing.

Oil prices have jumped around 30% this month on expectations of a global economic recovery later this year.

US crude oil for July delivery settled up $US1.23 at $US66.31 per barrel - its highest settlement since 4 November. London Brent crude settled up $US1.13 at $US65.52 per barrel.

Data on Friday showed Japanese industrial production rose 5.2%in April on a monthly basis and the government said it expected continued gains through June.

Data for the United States on Friday also reinforced a sense that the global economic slump might be abating.

The Commerce Department said the US contracted slightly less than initially estimated in the first quarter, dropping at an annual rate of 5.7% - rather than the 6.1% fall published by the government last month.

US crude oil stocks fell by 5.4 million barrels in the week to 22 May.

Gasoline inventories also fell for the fifth consecutive week before the Memorial Day holiday.