Oil rebounds from sharp fall, settles at $105

23 March 2012, Sweetcrude, HOUSTON – Crude oil futures rallied from sharp falls in the previous session on Friday, settling at $105 a barrel.

This came as better-than-expected jobs data offset fears that weak manufacturing data from China and Europe would hit oil demand.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, May crude rose 36 cents a barrel to $105.71 early on Friday after settling down 1.8 percent at $105.35 a barrel.

In London, ICE May Brent crude edged up 33 cents to $123.47 a barrel. In the previous session, it closed at $123.14, down 0.9%.

The number of Americans claiming new unemployment benefits dropped to a four-year low last week, offering further evidence the jobs market recovery was gaining traction.

Chinese manufacturing activity shrank for a fifth straight month in March and the euro zone economy is showing new signs of wilting, according to surveys on Thursday that pointed to weakening global demand.

In Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for US traded crude futures, US President Barack Obama reiterated his pledge to speed up the approval for the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline that would ship crude from the glutted Midwest to the refinery hub at the Texas Gulf Coast.

The European Union will allow some insurance on Iranian oil shipments before the bloc’s full embargo starts on 1 July, member states agreed on Thursday in response to concerns from Asian importers heavily reliant on the EU for their cover.

The safe-haven yen held on to overnight gains in Asia on Friday, having risen across the board as investors gave risk currencies like the Australian dollar a wide berth on worries about the health of the global economy.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei average was down 114.06 points at 10,013.02, while the broader Topix dropped 1.1% to 852.86.

Cyclical sectors led US stocks lower on Thursday, setting the S&P 500 up for its first negative week in six, after factory data showed a slowdown in both the euro zone and China.

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