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Brent rises toward $107


SINGAPORE — Brent crude rose toward $107 per barrel yesterday stretching gains into a fifth consecutive day on hopes the United States and Europe will this week announce new measures to shore up their fragile economies, boosting the outlook for oil demand.

Slowing growth in the US, the world’s top oil consumer, has triggered expectations of stimulus measures from the Federal Reserve, which meets today and tomorrow.

Next on investor radars is Friday’s US non-farm payrolls data.

“If unemployment starts to worsen, you can be sure that the FOMC are going to step in and inject more stimulus into the economy,” said Tony Nunan, a Tokyo-based risk manager at Mitsubishi Corporation.

“The mandate of the FOMC is not just to curb inflation, but it also has to sustain employment, they won’t have a choice but to act.”

Brent crude rose 45 cents to $106,92 per barrel at 0406GMT.

US crude rose 61 cents to $90,74 per barrel, gaining for a fifth day.

Investors are also eyeing the European Central Bank (ECB)’s policy-setting meeting scheduled for Thursday for further trading cues.

The meeting was always in focus given the threat the long-running euro zone crisis poses to the global economy but has become pivotal after the ECB chief Mario Draghi’s pledge last week to do whatever was needed to save the euro.

“Mario Draghi is typically cautious and for him to have come out last week with such strong comments, suggests that he’s got to have something in hand,” Nunan said.

Optimism was evident across most markets yesterday, with Asian shares extending their gains, as European leaders continued to reassure markets that they would not allow the euro to break up.

On Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande pledged to do everything in their powers to protect the euro after discussing the latest events in the debt crisis by telephone.

But despite the reassurances from Europe’s elite, an air of uncertainty lingered with Spanish and Italian bond-yields swelling into dangerous territory.

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