Crude oil surged again on Monday and posted its highest close in more than five months. Oil finished in positive territory for a fourth straight session to move above $54 a barrel amid encouraging economic news from the U.S. and China.
Light sweet crude for June delivery ended at $54.47 per barrel, up $1.27 on the session. Prices touched as high as $54.55.
Encouraging economic data improve the outlook for fuel demand. A National Association of Realtors report showed that pending home sales index rose 3.2 percent in March following a downwardly revised 2.0 percent increase in February. Economists had expected the index to come in unchanged following the 2.1 percent increase originally reported for the previous month.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Commerce Department said that the amount of spending on new construction projects rose 0.3 percent in March compared to the previous month, climbing to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of $969.7 billion.
Also helping the oil demand outlook, reports said citing CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets that the Chinese Purchasing Managers Index rose to 50.1 in April from 44.8 in the prior month. A reading above 50 suggests expansion in the manufacturing activity.
Energy investors also looked ahead to the Energy Information Administration's weekly inventory report. Last week's data showed inventories remain at their highest levels in nearly 20 years at 374.7 million barrels. U.S. commercial crude oil inventories increased by 4.1 million barrels in the week ended April 24. Economists predicted a more modest build of 1.8 million barrels.
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