02 February 2015 – Crude oil rose sharply on Friday as Brent and US futures posted their first monthly gains since June, supported by an improving demand outlook and supply outages.
On its way to contract expiration, March New York ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) gained more than 7% in volatile trading, and the 36% February increase was the biggest percentage monthly rise in 15 years, Reuters reported.
Brent crude rose $2.53 to $62.58 a barrel. February’s 18% gain was the biggest monthly percentage rise since May 2009.
US crude rose $1.59 to settle at $49.76, managing a 3.1% February gain.
Both Brent and US futures briefly pared gains after Baker Hughes data showed its US oil-rig count fell only 33 to 986 this week.
US crude gains have been curbed by rising crude oil inventories in the country, up 8.4 million barrels last week, according to government data.
Money managers cut their net long US crude futures and options positions in the week to 24 February, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission said on Friday.
Both contracts have been supported by signs that lower prices are starting to reduce investment in non-Opec production, even as the US rig count slide slows.
Brent’s more pronounced February gains have been fueled by disruptions to production and exports from Libya and Iraq.
“The main event this week has been the widening of the spread between Brent and WTI,” said Ole Hansen, senior commodity strategist at Saxo Bank.
The spread between Brent and US crude was as wide as $13 a barrel on Friday, the highest Brent premium since January 2014.
Brent has also received support from strong US refined products futures.
“Cold weather and refinery problems and tight supplies on the East Coast have helped make the ULSD contract the most sensitive part of the oil sector,” said Robert Yawger, director for energy futures at Mizuho Securities USA in New York.
March ULSD rose 16.31 cents to settle at $2.2989 a gallon, after reaching $2.3325, a 2015 peak and the highest since November.