Oil rose more than 3 percent on Friday to touch a near six-month high as the results of the U.S. governments stress test for big banks and U.S. jobs data added to optimism about the economy.
U.S. crude gained $1.92 to settle at $58.63 a barrel, after earlier touching $58.69, the highest level since November 17. Brent crude settled up $1.67 at $58.14 a barrel.
Oil, battered as the economic crisis slowed demand and sent prices down from a record over $147 a barrel in July, has risen over the past two months as hopes the economic recession may be easing lifts stock markets.
Crude futures are higher because people think the sky is no longer falling. A month ago, you wouldn't think they would think that way, but now they're buying, said Mark Waggoner, president of Excel Futures in Huntington Beach, California.
On the economy, from the middle of the week, we've seen positive numbers on jobs -- private sector jobs, jobless benefit claims and now smaller than expected job losses last month.
U.S. stocks gained after the stress test results fueled financial stocks, and data showed employers cut fewer-than-expected jobs in April.
U.S. employers cut 539,000 jobs last month, the fewest since October, signaling the economy's steep decline might be easing and giving the stock market a boost.
German exports posted their first rise in six months in March, according to the country's Federal Statistics Office on Friday.
Signs of a potential economic recovery have helped increase oil prices by around 70 percent from February lows below $34 a barrel, though analysts say oil's positive correlation to equities markets could be cut if rising inventories weigh on crude's rally.
U.S. crude oil stocks rose to fresh 19-year highs, according to U.S. government data, while inventories at sea have surged as well this year.
Iran's OPEC governor said rising stockpiles may force the oil producer group to reduce its output ceiling when it next meets on May 28, Iran's Mehr News Agency reported.
The volume of crude stockpiling in the world has risen, in comparison to the past five years, from an average of 52 days to 61 days, Khatibi was quoted as saying.
OPEC has already agreed to reduce production since September by about 4.2 million barrels per day (bpd), or about 5 percent of world supply. It is estimated to have delivered about 80 percent of those cuts so far.
The risk for investors is that some markets have got ahead of themselves and could be vulnerable should the flow of positive economic data start to deteriorate, Barclays Capital said in a research note.
If the recent bout of positive sentiment subsides, prices might well go through a phase of consolidation in the mid-50s, it said.
(Reporting by Matthew Robinson, Robert Gibbons, and Gene Ramos in New York, Jane Merriman, Maryelle Demongeot and Alex Lawler in London; Editing by Christian Wiessner)