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Oil rises to near $101 on weaker US dollar

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1 Oil rises to near $101 on weaker US dollar on Fri May 27, 2011 7:46 pm

SINGAPORE – Oil prices crept higher to near $101 a barrel Friday in Asia as a weaker dollar overrode signs of tepid U.S. economic growth.

Benchmark oil for July delivery was up 49 cents to $100.72 a barrel at afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.09 to settle at $100.23 on Thursday.

In London, Brent crude for July delivery was up 20 cents at $115.25 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

The euro rose to $1.4247 on Friday from $1.4135 late Thursday while the dollar fell to 81.01 yen from 81.37 yen. A weaker U.S. currency makes dollar-based commodities such as oil cheaper for investors with other currencies.

The Commerce Department confirmed Thursday that the U.S. economy grew at a lackluster annual rate of 1.8 percent in the first quarter as high gasoline prices weighed on consumer spending. Also, the Labor Department reported that more people applied for unemployment benefits last week.

Some analysts expect that falling crude demand will drag oil prices down over the next few months.

"A weaker dollar could bolster buying interest in oil as an asset class," Ritterbusch and Associates said in a report. "But our view is that demand destruction will win out over the currency factor into the summer period."

In other Nymex trading in June contracts, heating oil rose 1 cent to $2.99 a gallon and gasoline added 1.1 cents to $3.06 a gallon. Natural gas futures for July delivery gained 1.3 cents to $4.37 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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