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Brent oil nears $113 after Bernanke talk

27 February 2013, 14:09

London -  Brent futures rose to 113 dollars (86.32 pound) a barrel on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve's commitment to monetary stimulus renewed hopes of a revival in demand growth in the U.S.

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke defended the bond-buying stimulus before Congress and a spike in U.S. home sales boosted Asian shares, base metals and other riskier assets.

Yet, concerns over spending cuts in the U.S. and a prolonged instability in Europe as elections in Italy failed to produce a strong government kept a lid on prices.

Brent crude slipped 6 cents to 112.65 dollars a barrel this morning, after rising to as much as 113.10 dollars.

Bernanke said Fed policymakers recognise the potential risks from their extraordinary support for the economy, including the possibility it might fuel unwanted inflation or stoke asset bubbles.

But the risks did not seem material at the moment, he said, adding the central bank has all the tools it needs to retreat from its monetary support.

Markets were also buoyed by data showing U.S. home prices closed out 2012 with the biggest annual gain in more than six years while sales of new homes spiked in January, the latest sign that the long-suffering housing market was on the mend.

Yet, oil, particularly the U.S. contract, drew some support as American Petroleum Institute data showed U.S. crude stockpiles rose less than expected.

Stocks rose 904,000 barrels in the week to Feb. 22, the data showed, while analysts had expected a rise of 2.4 million barrels.



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