Commodities: Crude rises on improved demand outlook

LONDON (ShareCast) - Crude oil futures rose for the fourth straight session on Monday after recent upbeat US data boosted the outlook for oil demand while a weaker dollar also enticed investors.

Crude for June delivery rose 69 cents to settle at $96.71 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest close since the start of April for a front month contract.

Crude rose despite losses among US equities on Monday as caution set in ahead of the more economic data such as new home sales and initial jobless claims as well as the Federal Reserve's minutes from its last policy meeting.

On Wednesday the central bank will detail talks held at its last meeting and Chief Ben Bernanke will testify on the outlook for the US economy.

Markets will be keen to hear the Federal Open Market Committee's view on whether they are confident economic improvements will continue and be sustained.

Otherwise the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend also marks the start of the US summer driving season. Traditionally gasoline demand hits a high and oil prices are given a boost.

London rival, Brent crude settled 16 cents higher at $104.80 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange, more than a two week high.

Among precious metals gold shrugged off a seven session losing streak on Monday as bargain hunters moved in.

Gold for June delivery climbed $19.40 to settle at $1,384.10 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.