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Crude oil prices eke out a win despite U.S. inventory surprise

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Crude oil ended in positive territory today as Iranian politics and strong Asian economic data proved stronger than an unexpectedly strong climb in U.S. petroleum stockpiles.

The U.S.-dominated West Texas Intermediate ( USO , quote ) blend ended up 30 cents at $106.86, overcoming an initial downturn on news that U.S. crude oil inventories surged by 4.2 million barrels, far above the 800,000-barrel increase analysts had expected. The day was unusually volatile as the futures contracts for finished fuel expired at the close. Overseas, the Brent ( BNO , quote ) benchmark held up better, supported by data from Japan showing that its factory output increased by 2% in January from the previous month, compared to market consensus for a 1.5% rise, and industrial production in South Korea jumped by 3.3% compared to analyst expectations for a decline of 0.5%. Consumer confidence in the U.S. also contributed to the bullish tone, with the Conference Board's index lifting to 70.8 in February (from a revised 61.5 in January) against market predictions for a rise to just 63. Underpinning crude oil strength on a geopolitical basis, fears remain that tensions surrounding Iran in the run-up to this Friday's parliamentary elections may increase further. Already, pre-electoral maneuvering by the country's two principal power groupings -- those who back the country's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and those supporting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- has encompassed a marked upturn in terrorist activity and anti-West rhetoric focused on a possible closing of the Strait of Hormuz in the past three weeks. by Simon Watkins for Emerging Money

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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