Feb. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Oil traded near the highest price in almost a week as investors speculated that a U.S. economic recovery will boost fuel demand. Brent’s premium to West Texas Intermediate crude widened an eighth day after militants attacked a pipeline in Nigeria.
Futures were little changed after rising on Feb. 3 for the first day in six as U.S. Commerce Department data showed employment climbed more than forecast in January and unemployment unexpectedly fell. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, the main armed group in Nigeria’s oil-rich southern region, attacked and damaged a pipeline belonging to a unit of Italy’s Eni SpA.
Crude for March delivery was at $97.62 a barrel, down 22 cents, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 8:49 a.m. Singapore time. The contract rose $1.48 to $97.84 on Feb. 3, the highest close since Jan. 31.
Brent oil for March settlement gained 28 cents to $114.86 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange. The contract traded at $17.24 more than WTI, the widest gap based on closing prices since Nov. 8. The difference was a record $27.88 on Oct. 14.
Eni lost about 4,000 barrels a day of equity production from the attack on its pipeline, the Rome-based company said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. Attacks by militant groups in the delta cut Nigeria’s crude output by more than 28 percent from 2006 to 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
--Editors: Paul Gordon, Alexander Kwiatkowski
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