March 19, 2012 / 9:57 PM / 6 years ago

NYMEX-US crude up on Iran, strong equities, weak dollar

 * Iran worries, lower dollar versus euro lift crude
 * POLL-U.S. crude stocks seen up 2.4 mln bbls last week
 * Major U.S. equities indexes up as Apple rises
 * Coming up: API weekly oil stocks, Tuesday, 4:30 p.m. EDT
 NEW YORK, March 19 (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil futures rose
for a second day in a row on Monday on persistent worries about
supply disruption from Iran, higher equities and a weaker
 Concern about supplies from Iran continued to roil the oil
market due to EU and U.S. sanctions even though Tehran has
agreed to a new round of talks with world powers on its disputed
nuclear program.	
 April RBOB gasoline futures settled at their highest
since May 2011 on news that Valero Energy Corp will halt
operations at its 235,000-barrel-per-day refinery in Aruba
because of low profit margins. 	
 Valero had already cut processing rates at the plant and
said it may continue to run the site as a terminal and storage
 More than 2.1 million bpd of refining capacity in the
Atlantic Basin has been shut or are under threat of closure
during the past three years due to poor economics. See FACTBOX
 Gasoline futures also gained ahead of weekly U.S. inventory
reports, which are forecast to show in a preliminary Reuters
poll that gasoline stocks fell 2.1 million barrels in the week
to March 16. [EIA/S}	
 Heating oil futures dipped, despite the forecast calling for
a drawdown of 1.1 million barrels.	
 The poll forecast that crude stocks rose 2.4 million barrels
on expectations of higher imports and lower refinery
utilization, which was projected to have dipped 0.5 percentage
  The industry group American Petroleum Institute will
release its report on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. EST (2030 GMT) and
the Energy Information Administration will issue its data on
Wednesday, at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT).	
 * On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude for April
delivery, which expires on Tuesday, settled at $108.09 a
barrel, up $1.03, or 0.96 percent.
 * In London, ICE Brent crude for May delivery 
settled 10 cents lower, or  0.08 percent, at $125.71 a barrel.	
 * May Brent's premium against NYMEX May crude 
narrowed to $17.15 at the close, from $18.23 on Friday.      
 * NYMEX April RBOB closed at $3.3678 a barrel, up
1.09 cents, or 0.32 percent, the highest for front-month
gasoline since May 10, 2011, when prices ended at $3.3797.
 * The U.S. Federal Reserve has not yet decided whether to
embark on a third round of quantitative easing, or QE3, though
it remains an option, said New York Fed President William
Dudley, who painted a mixed picture of the U.S. economy.	
 * Bank of America Merrill Lynch raised 2012 price forecasts
for Brent crude by $8 to $118 a barrel and for U.S. oil by $3 to
$106 a barrel, citing better-than-expected global economic
conditions and tighter-than-expected supplies. 
 * Three of the trains feeding the desulphurization unit at
PBF Energy's 182,000 bpd refinery in Delaware City were
restarted after a fire hit the plant on Friday, but a fourth
train was heavily damaged, an industry source said.           
 * BP Plc's 405,000 bpd Whiting, Indiana, refinery was
back to normal operations on Monday following a unit tripping
out of production on Sunday, according to sources familiar with
refinery operations. The malfunction on Sunday did not impact
production at the refinery, the sources said. 
 * China will raise retail gasoline and diesel prices by
between 6 and 7 percent from Tuesday, marking the biggest
increase in 33 months, a move that will help refiners reduce
heavy losses but is unlikely to hit demand in a big way.
 * U.S. homebuilder sentiment was unchanged in March to hold
at the highest level since June 2007 while sentiment in February
was revised lower, the National Association of Home Builders
said on Monday. 	
 * The Standard & Poor's 500 Index extended its rally to
climb within 10 percent of its historic closing high, after
Apple Inc said it would buy back $10 billion of its
stock and pay $10 billion annual dividend. 	
 * The euro climbed to its highest against the U.S. dollar in
more than a week after an orderly auction of Greek default
insurance supported views that Greece's threat to the euro zone
has diminished. 	
 * Copper rose in moderate trading as another large
withdrawal in warehouse stockpiles and an improved U.S. economic
outlook bolstered the West's demand prospects at a time when
China's near-term needs remain unclear. 
 * Gold rose with some investors encouraged by signs that
central banks have been buying the precious metal on dips, but
its technical outlook indicates it could fall further. 	
 * U.S. housing starts for February, 8:30 a.m. EST (1230 GMT)	
               CHNG   CHNG                      VOL      VOL
 CLc1   108.09    1.03   1.0%  106.55  108.24   86,365  192,992
 CLc2   108.56    0.98   0.9%  107.04  108.70  236,930  150,002
 LCOc1  125.71   -0.10  -0.1%  124.82  126.05  122,436  159,876
 RBc1   3.3678  0.0109   0.3%  3.3460  3.3846   32,795   53,742
 RBc2   3.3618  0.0083   0.3%  3.3415  3.3780   37,749   42,843
 HOc1   3.2613 -0.0206  -0.6%  3.2488  3.2912   40,008   48,797
 HOc2   3.2759 -0.0151  -0.5%  3.2633  3.2981   41,654   28,063
 TOTAL MARKET            VOLUME                 OPEN  INTEREST
           CURRENT    Mar 16   30D AVG     Mar 16  NET CHNG
 CRUDE        545,368   550,209   706,247  1,574,114   -15,039
 RBOB         133,313   139,514   140,236    387,253    -1,882
 HO           142,138   106,912   147,426    282,346       465
 (Reporting By Gene Ramos and Robert Gibbons; Editing by Bob
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