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US oil jumps 10 percent on stimulus hopes

US oil jumped 10 percent yesterday on hopes the US economic stimulus package could help pull the economy out of a 14-month recession.

The US House of Representatives yesterday approved the US$787 billion package of spending and tax cuts and the Senate was expected to vote on the plan later in the day.

"It looks like a bounce on stimulus hopes," said Tom Bentz, analyst at BNP Paribas Commodity Futures.

US crude for March delivery rose US$3.53 to settle at US$37.51 a barrel. London Brent crude for April settled down US$1.22 to US$44.81 a barrel.

Further support came as traders booked profits by selling the spread between front and second month futures contracts, analysts said. US crude for April delivery eased 20 cents at its settlement to US$41.97.

"Those that were short March and long April are reversing that, taking profits and getting out of that spread play before the long weekend. And (March) options are expiring on Tuesday after the holiday," said Phil Flynn, analyst at Alaron Trading in Chicago.

Oil prices have tumbled from their peak over US$147 a barrel last year as the economic downturn has spread to all regions of the world, cutting energy consumption.

Producer group OPEC cut its forecast for world oil demand, adding to a wave of demand cuts made by other forecasters this year.

Making a possible case for further supply cuts, OPEC said in its monthly report that global demand would fall by 580,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2009 to average 85.13 million bpd.

The cartel agreed to a series of deep production cuts in the second half of 2008 to combat the slide in prices and demand. OPEC is next scheduled to meet in March, with some members calling for another reduction in supplies.

The International Energy Agency said that global markets are already tightening, and that any move by OPEC to further restrict supplies could send oil prices higher.


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