SINGAPORE: Brent crude oil futures held steady above US$110 a barrel on Monday on hopes the US Federal Reserve would delay curbing its massive economic stimulus programme until next year, which could help support oil demand in the world’s largest oil consumer.
Investors were also waiting for the release of US government oil data later in the day and US September payrolls data on Tuesday for further clues on the country’s oil demand.
Brent crude futures for December delivery gained 10 cents to US$110.04 a barrel by 0343 GMT. Last week, the contract lost 1.2 per cent, its first weekly loss in three.
US crude oil futures for November delivery were up 3 cents to US$100.84, after earlier rising as high as US$100.95.
"The market’s just in a wait-and-see mode ... The thing on most traders’ minds is what sort of story is going to be told by the US data now that it’s going to be released again," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney.
Investors face a deluge of data this week as US government departments catch up after a 16-day shutdown.
The US Energy Information Administration will release weekly oil data for the week ended October 11 later on Monday. Its normal release schedule will resume after that, and oil data for last week will be released on Wednesday.
"We had the US government shutdown after most of the data we’re about to see, so even if it looks okay, people will be factoring in the slowdown from the shutdown," Spooner said.
"If the data is weaker than expected then that would be looked at as significant as it gives us a lower base running into the government shutdown."
Oil prices were supported by a weaker US dollar, which fell to its lowest level since February on Friday on expectations the Fed will have to delay scaling back its stimulus following the US government shutdown.
A weak dollar boosts oil and other commodities priced in the greenback by making them cheaper for holders of other currencies.
Oil prices were also supported after data showing that oil demand in the US rose 2.7 per cent in September compared with year-ago levels due to the stronger economy and export demand, according to American Petroleum Institute data.
This follows positive economic data from China, the world’s second largest oil consumer, where gross domestic product grew 7.8 per cent in the third quarter from a year earlier.
Saudi Arabia increased its oil exports by 325,000 barrels a day (bpd) in August from July to 7.795 million bpd, the latest official data published by the Joint Data Initiative (JODI) showed on Sunday.
The world’s largest oil exporter produced 10.19 million bpd of crude, up 156,000 bpd from July.-- Reuters