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WTI Oil Climbs to One-Week High as OPEC Raises Demand Estimate

Feb. 12 (Bloomberg) -- West Texas Intermediate oil in New York climbed to the highest level in more than a week as OPEC boosted a demand forecast for its crude this year and the Group of Seven pledged to avoid devaluing exchange rates.

Futures rose as much as 0.8 percent after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said it will have to provide 29.8 million barrels a day in 2013, up 0.3 percent from its January estimate. The dollar fell against the euro on the G-7 statement. Iran reiterated readiness to allow nuclear inspectors to visit a military site if its rights are recognized. An International Atomic Energy Agency team arrives tomorrow.

“OPEC’s statement that they will need to pump an additional 100,000 barrels this year and the upcoming IAEA inspections in Iran will be followed, but currency issues are the main driver today,” said Bob Yawger, director of the futures division at Mizuho Securities USA Inc. in New York. “The G-7 announcement has pushed us into positive territory.”

Crude oil for March delivery advanced 48 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $97.51 a barrel at 10:38 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract touched $97.79, the highest level since Feb. 1. Futures fell to $94.97 yesterday, the least since Jan. 23. The volume of all futures traded was 44 percent above with the 100-day average.

Brent oil for March settlement, which expires tomorrow, advanced 14 cents to $118.27 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The more-active April contract gained 15 cents to $117.36 a barrel. The volume of all futures traded was 14 percent above the 100-day average.

Brent Premium

The European benchmark grade’s premium to WTI weakened for a second day, narrowing to $20.76 from $21.04 at the close of trading yesterday. The spread settled at $23.18 on Feb. 8, the widest level since Nov. 26.

“We’ve seen good momentum in WTI since touching yesterday’s low,” said Addison Armstrong, director of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. “There’s some interesting activity taking place in the WTI-Brent spread. Traders are trying to find the equilibrium for the spread.”

The euro strengthened as much as 0.5 percent to $1.3467 against the dollar as the G-7’s finance ministers and central bank governors promised they would “not target exchange rates” in a statement today in London.

OPEC Report

OPEC trimmed output by 21,000 barrels a day to 30.32 million in January, according to the group’s monthly market report published today. Global oil demand will rise by 800,000 barrels a day to 89.7 million, the report showed. That marks an increase of 80,000 barrels a day from last month’s report.

Iran said it’s ready let nuclear inspectors visit the Parchin military site if the Persian Gulf nation’s right to enrich uranium is acknowledged by world powers.

“We are prepared to come to a comprehensive agreement” with the IAEA in which Iran’s rights as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty would be “fully endorsed and recognized,” Ramin Mehmanparast, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, told reporters in Tehran today. The deal “would include the removal of concerns, and the visit of the Parchin military site could be one of these agreements,” he said.

The U.S. and its allies say Iran may seek to make an atomic bomb, while Iran says it’s pursuing a civil program designed to secure energy. Sanctions aimed at stopping the country’s nuclear program have hindered its ability to export oil.

Iran pumped 2.6 million barrels a day of crude in January, down 60,000 barrels from December and the lowest level since February 1990, a Bloomberg survey showed. Iran, OPEC’s biggest producer after Saudi Arabia a year ago, is now tied with the United Arab Emirates for fifth place.

U.S. Stockpiles

U.S. crude oil supplies probably rose 2.3 million barrels last week, according to the median of nine analyst responses in a Bloomberg survey conducted before an Energy Information Administration report tomorrow.

The EIA, the Energy Department’s statistical arm, is scheduled to release its weekly report at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow in Washington. The industry-funded American Petroleum Institute will release separate supply data today.

The API collects stockpile information on a voluntary basis from operators of refineries, bulk terminals and pipelines. The government requires that reports be filed with the Energy Department for its weekly survey.

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