Oil prices edged higher Friday amid resurgent demand in Asia and positive economic data in the United States and Europe that supported hopes the global economy is pulling out of recession.
New Yorkâ€™s main futures contract, light sweet crude for October delivery, rose 25 cents to close at 72.740 dollars a barrel.
In London, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in October gained 28 cents to settle at 72.74 dollars a barrel.
The New York contract had clung to positive territory throughout the day, however the momentum was curbed late in the session by a rise in the dollar, which makes dollar-priced oil more expensive for buyers using weaker currencies.
â€œThe flow of economic data remains firmly positive,â€ Barclays Capital analysts said in a client note.
â€œMeanwhile, in the oil market, evidence of a strong recovery in Asian demand continues to gather,â€ they added.
Fridayâ€™s macreconomic numbers supported optimism that early signs of global recovery were taking root, promising an increase in energy demand.
In the United States, the worldâ€™s largest energy-consuming nation, official data showed consumer spending rose for the third consecutive month, albeit largely due to federal aid.
In Europe, the European Commissionâ€™s economic sentiment indicator for the 16-nation eurozone rose for the fifth month running in August.
JPMorgan Chase analysts cautioned that oil demand remained weak.
â€œDespite our confidence in the recovery process over the next six months, there is precious little indication from the energy side that industrial activity in the US, is recovering,â€ said Lawrence Eagles and co-authors said in a report released late Thursday.
They forecast prices would remain below current levels for the fourth quarter of the year.
â€œIndications that the supply-side will largely offset the economic recovery in the second half of the year, leaving an ongoing very high stock overhang lead us to expect prices to underperform in the coming months,â€ it said.
Crude oil prices seesawed in the week, hitting 75 dollars for the first time in 10 months Tuesday before falling sharply. On Thursday prices briefly fell below 70 dollars, then bounced back.
â€œThe 65-75 dollar range continues to dominate and define price dynamics at present, and we expect this to continue through the remainder of the quarter,â€ the Barclays Capital analysts said.
â€œThat range reflects well the current fundamental situation, whereby demand is improving and the inventory overhang eroding, but not at a fast enough pace yet to justify a sustainable push above 75 dollars a barrel.â€
John Kilduff of MF Global said that prices had climbed from February lows â€œon only hopes of reinvigorated demand.â€
â€œOnce that demand invariably shows up prices should advance exponentially,â€ he said.