* Brent/WTI spread below $10 a barrel for first time since
* Comments on Syria's possible chemical weapons pushes
Brent, U.S. crude higher
* Pipeline shipments out of U.S. hub said to increase
* Rise accompanies broader rally in commodities
(Updates to settlement, adds quotes, technical analysis)
By Anna Louie Sussman and Matthew Robinson
NEW YORK, April 25 Oil prices rose as much as $2
on Thursday as new reports over Syria's possible use of chemical
weapons stirred concerns over stability in the Gulf region,
while a wider rally in commodity and equity markets fuelled
The narrowing spread CL-LCO1=R between the front-month
Brent crude oil futures contract and the U.S. crude oil futures
contract (WTI) was once again in focus, closing at less than $10
a barrel for the first time since early 2012 after an industry
group reported a large drop in Cushing, Oklahoma, crude stocks.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's midmorning comments on
Syria's possible use of chemical weapons sent jitters through
the market, traders noted.
U.S. crude rose more than 2 percent to close up $2.21
at $93.64 a barrel. Brent crude settled up $1.68 at
$103.41 a barrel, narrowing the spread by more than 50 cents to
$9.77 a barrel.
Technically-driven trading helped propel gains, with little
to stop the upward move after U.S. prices broke above the 50-,
100- and 200-day moving averages, said Bill Baruch, senior
market strategist at iitrader.com in Chicago, Illinois.
"The rally here is because the longs had reached the
saturation point when U.S. crude got to about $95. They sold off
to about $85, which is very long-term support," said Michael
Korn, president of Skokie Energy in Princeton, New Jersey.
Gold, copper and grain markets also rose strongly on the day
as investors made a cautious return to raw material markets that
have tumbled sharply this month, while U.S. stocks also gained
on reports that the number of Americans filing new claims for
unemployment benefits fell last week.
Brent has risen in five of the last six trading sessions but
is still down more than 6 percent from the beginning of April.
U.S. crude has risen for seven out of the last eight trading
sessions. Although it is still down more than 4 percent since
the beginning of April, it has climbed back steadily from a
mid-month low of $85.61.
SPREAD NARROWS, FORTIES FLOWS
Some traders said the narrowing Brent/WTI spread had been
driven by a report from industry group Genscape showing that
Cushing crude oil stocks had dropped by 1.6 million barrels
between April 16 and April 23, as shipments on the Seaway
pipeline to the Gulf Coast increased.
The tighter spread could stymie some of the higher-cost
barge shipments from the U.S. Midwest to refiners on the Gulf,
Citi Futures Perspective analyst Tim Evans wrote.
U.S. crude had been trading at a wide discount to Brent
because of large inventory builds at key pricing point Cushing,
Oklahoma. But pipelines are now taking more crude to the U.S.
Gulf Coast, alleviating the supply pressure at Cushing.
Brent crude gained despite news that at least nine May
cargoes have moved up the North Sea Forties crude programme
after stronger-than-expected output from Britain's Buzzard
oilfield, the biggest contributor to the Forties stream.
(Additional reporting by Robert Gibbons in New York, Claire
Milhench in London, Jessica Jaganathan in Singapore; Editing by