| GEO Business|
| Oil near 8-week high on weak dollar|
| Updated at: 0918 PST, Monday, March 08, 2010|
TOKYO: Oil extended gains toward $82 a barrel on Monday, buoyed by a weaker dollar and signs of an economic recovery in top oil consumer, the United States.
Traders and analysts say currency movements could dominate oil prices as demand strength stays unclear during the recovery.
The euro was higher on the U.S. dollar on Monday, edging up to $1.3635 from $1.3611 late in New York, helped at the margins by growing support for debt-laden Greece.
Crude for April delivery rose 48 cents to $81.98 a barrel by 10:06 p.m. EST. On Friday, it rose as high as $82.07, the highest since $82.34 marked on January 12.
London Brent crude was up 51 cents at $80.40.
New York crude has traded in a range of $69 to $84 over the past few months amid uncertainty about the speed of the global economic recovery.
"In the past few days, market moves have been led by technicals," said Tomokazu Amano, analyst at Mitsubishi Corp Futures & Securities in Tokyo.
"Now that $80 or higher is here to stay, we are seeing an influx of speculative money from the funds and others."
Money managers extended their net long crude oil futures position on the New York Mercantile Exchange in the week through March 2, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission said on Friday.
The key speculator group hiked net long positions to 144,058 during the week, up from 132,504 in the week to February 23.
Oil also got support from higher Asian shares. Japan's Nikkei and South Korean shares rose more than 1 percent, boosted by Friday's better than expected U.S. jobs data, with exporters gaining on a weaker yen and resource-linked firms up on gains in commodities prices.
In a bid to calm markets, French President Nicolas Sarkozy promised Greece on Sunday that euro zone countries would help it overcome its financial problems and vowed a crack down on financial speculators Athens blames for its woes.
On Wall Street, bulls may get more room to run this week on the anniversary of the March 2009 lows -- if U.S. stock investors see more signs of stability after Friday's rally on smaller-than-expected job losses.
Ecuador's oil minister Germanico Pinto said on Friday there was no need for an output cut at OPEC's March 17 meeting in Vienna and that crude prices were "relatively stable.
Pinto, who holds the rotating presidency of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries this year, said there was no plan to cut back production at the meeting.
Oil producers are pumping more crude than consumers need but the oversupply is insufficient to have a big impact on the market, Iran's OPEC governor said on Sunday.
Oil market participants were also paying attention to the election in Iraq. Bomb blasts and rocket and mortar fire killed 38 people as Iraqis voted on Sunday in an election they hoped would distance their nascent democracy from years of sectarian slaughter as U.S. troops pack up to leave.