Oil gains, Brent premium to U.S. crude at narrowest since July

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Brent crude edged higher on Friday while U.S. crude futures jumped more than $1 per barrel, sending the spread between the two contracts to the narrowest level since July.

U.S. crude traded up for much of the day, with prices making a strong move higher at the end of the session that helped pull Brent into positive territory.

Oil found broadly found support from equity markets as investors mulled the possibility of a deal to bail out Cyprus, analysts said.

In addition, drawdowns of crude oil inventories at the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery point for the U.S. oil futures contracted have helped push that New York Mercantile Exchange crude futures higher.

Brent May crude rose 19 cents to settle at $107.66 a barrel on the day. For the week, the contract lost $2.16 a barrel.

U.S. May crude traded up $1.26 to settle at $93.71 a barrel, up 26 cents on the week.

"I think the market continues to get support from the financial markets," said Gene McGillian, analyst, Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut, noting the U.S. crude continued to trade in a $91 to $94 range established over the past week.

Brent's premium to U.S. crude narrowed sharply, however, off nearly a $1 to below $14 a barrel.

Traders have been closely watching pipeline projects, including Magellan's Longhorn pipeline, that is coming online to ease the glut of crude at Cushing.

Analysts also cited rising supplies of North Sea crudes, which helps set the price for Brent, as weighing on the international benchmark. (Additional reporting by Jessica Donati in London and Florence Tan in Singapore; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer and Marguerita Choy)



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