Oil advanced for a second day in New York on signs that the economy is improving in China, the world’s second-biggest consumer of crude.
Futures rose as much as 0.5 percent after a purchasing managers’ index climbed to a one-year high in March. Oil capped a 4.2 percent gain in the first quarter as President Barack Obama said March 30 that world supplies are sufficient to proceed with new sanctions against Iran.
“The firmer tone relates to the official Chinese PMI reading, and that reverses the negative sentiment we’ve seen around China,” said Michael McCarthy, a chief market strategist at CMC Markets Asia Pacific Pty in Sydney. “That speaks well to demand. The Middle East seems to be quietly boiling away without any signs at this stage of a blow-up.”
Oil for May delivery gained as much as 56 cents to $103.58 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $103.12 at 3:05 p.m. Singapore time. Prices fell 3.8 percent in March, narrowing the first-quarter gain.
Brent oil for May settlement increased 26 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $123.14 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European benchmark contract’s premium to New York-traded West Texas Intermediate was at $20, up from $19.86 on March 30, the most since Oct. 24.