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5 years ago
UPDATE 7-Oil climbs above $124 on economy hopes, Iran concern
March 1, 2012 / 11:51 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 7-Oil climbs above $124 on economy hopes, Iran concern

* Chinese manufacturing up more than expected in Feb

* U.S. jobless claims hover near four-year low

* Western sanctions already cutting Iran oil exports-EIA (Recasts, updates prices and market activity, new byline, changes dateline previously LONDON)

By Gene Ramos

NEW YORK, March 1 (Reuters) - Brent crude rose above $124 a barrel on Thursday as upbeat economic data from China and the United States brightened oil demand prospects.

Concerns about disruptions of Iran oil supplies, already being reduced in the wake of Western sanctions against Tehran for its disputed nuclear program, remained supportive.

U.S. jobless claims fell last week, the latest sign that the labor market recovery was gaining momentum. But other economic data showed the manufacturing sector cooled last month while construction spending fell in January..

The latest snapshot of U.S. economic sectors follows a report on Wednesday that showed the economy grew a bit faster than initially thought in the fourth quarter.

China's factories grew more than expected in February as new export orders for big companies bounced back, a government survey showed.

In London, ICE Brent crude for April delivery was up $1.51 at $124.17 a barrel by 11:55 a.m. EST (1655 GMT) off the session high $124.65. Front-month Brent crude hit an intraday high of $125.55 on Friday, the highest since May 2.

U.S. crude seesawed in choppy trading and was up 41 cents at $107.48, after hitting a session high of $107.97. U.S. crude hit $109.95 on Friday, highest intraday since May 4.

"The existing supply-side disruptions and risk of them getting worse are supporting prices - Iran and the continuing conflict in Syria," said Christoper Bellew, a broker at Jefferies Bache in London.

Additional reporting by Robert Gibbons in New York, Alex Lawler in London, Manash Goswami in Singapore; Editing by David Gregorio

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