New York-traded crude oil futures edged higher on Friday, amid indications that the U.S. economy is shaking off the effect of a weather-related slowdown over the winter, while traders continued to monitor events in Ukraine.
Futures were likely to find support at $100.82 a barrel, the low from May 15 and resistance at $101.98 a barrel, the high from May 14.
For the week, Nymex oil futures rose 1.56%, or $1.59 a barrel, the first weekly gain in five weeks.
The Commerce Department reported Friday that U.S. housing starts rose 13.2% last month, the largest increase in five months and following a 2.0% increase in March.
The upbeat housing data came one day after a report from the U.S. Department of Labor showed that the number of people who filed for unemployment assistance in the U.S. last week fell to a six-year low of 297,000.
The robust data underlined the view that the U.S. economy was regaining traction after being slowed by unusually cold temperatures during the winter months.
Meanwhile, heightened tensions between Russia and Ukraine remained in focus, amid concerns over a disruption to supplies from the region.
The conflict between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces continued on Friday, stoking fears that the crisis will further develop and drag the U.S. deeper into the standoff.
Russia produced 10.4 million barrels of oil per day in 2012 and exported 7.4 million, making it the world’s second largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia.
In the week ahead, investors will be looking to the minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest monetary policy meeting, due for release on Wednesday, for insight on the central bank's view of the economy.
Data from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission released Friday showed that hedge funds and money managers increased their bullish bets in New York-traded oil futures in the week ending May 13.
Net longs totaled 311,195 contracts as of last week, up 3.75% from net longs of 299,543 in the preceding week.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil for July delivery picked up 0.61%, or 66 cents, on Friday to settle at $109.75 a barrel by close of trade.
The July Brent contract rose 1.69% or $1.86 a barrel on the week, amid growing concerns over a disruption to supplies from Libya.
Meanwhile the spread between the Brent and the WTI crude contracts stood at $8.17 a barrel by close of trade on Friday, compared to $7.90 in the preceding week. - investing.com