Brent Oil closes at 18-month high after positive US jobs data

Brent oil rose to the highest close in almost 18 months after US government data showed strong job and wage gains while Kuwait and Saudi Arabia signalled they are curbing output. Futures climbed a third day after Labor Department data showed that the world’s biggest crude-consuming country added 156,000 jobs in December, while wages rose the most since 2009. Kuwait is trimming slightly more than it promised under Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC’s) November 30 accord, while Saudi Arabia told Asian customers to expect additional oil export cuts in February after reducing output by the full required amount, according to people with knowledge of the situation. "The jobs numbers were pretty good, which is good for oil demand," Bill O’Grady, chief market strategist at Confluence Investment Management in St. Louis, which oversees $6.1 billion, said by telephone. "We’ve priced in an enormous amount of good news. Now, OPEC has to deliver on its promises." Oil last year capped its biggest annual gain since 2009 as the OPEC and 11 nations from outside the group agreed on a plan to reduce production. While suppliers including Kuwait, Iraq and Oman say they have started to curtail output, an increase in volumes from countries such as Libya - exempt from cuts - could put pressure on others. Brent for March settlement advanced 21 cents, or 0.5 per cent, to $57.10 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. It was the highest close since July 17, 2015. Total volume traded was 29 per cent below the 100-day average at 3.41 pm in New York. The global benchmark crude closed at a $2.23 premium to March West Texas Intermediate contracts. (Mark Shenk/Bloomberg)

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