Oil prices rise on strong Japan, Australia economic data

20 May, 2015 11:45 am

SINGAPORE – Crude oil prices bounced back on Wednesday from steep falls in the previous session as strong Japanese economic growth surprised markets and the consumer outlook in Australia seemed to brighten, stoking producer hopes of increased demand.

Japan’s economy, the world’s third largest, expanded at an annualised rate of 2.4 percent in the first three months of this year, above a median market forecast for a 1.5 percent rise and following a revised 1.1 percent expansion in October-December, official data showed.

“Japan is one of the major importers of crude oil and growth in this region would definitely be favourable for crude demand,” Singapore-based brokerage Phillip Futures said.

Brent futures were up 60 cents at $64.62 a barrel by 0310 GMT. US crude prices were also up 60 cents at $58.59 a barrel.

The price rises came after a session on Tuesday that saw oil slide over 3 percent on a dollar rally and concerns of a building glut, which Goldman Sachs said would lead to a return of 2015 lows.

Japan’s weekly crude runs were at 3.02 million barrels per day for the week to May 16, official data showed Wednesday, up 0.12 percent from this time last year, although 0.17 percentage points below the previous week.

The country’s refinery utilization rate stood at 77.1 percent, up 3.5 percent from last year, but still 4.4 percent below the previous week.

In Australia, an important commodity employer and exporter, consumer sentiment surged in May as people’s outlook on the economy brightened following this month’s interest rate cut and after the government unveiled a budget that included a surprise tax break for small businesses. – Reuters


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