Brent pushes above $125 on Iran tensions
* Iran tensions, supply concerns support oil
* Saudi ups exports in past week
* Brent, U.S. crude RSI in overbought territory
* Coming up: CFTC positions data 3:30 p.m. EST Friday (Recasts, updates prices, market activity)
By Robert Gibbons
NEW YORK, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Brent crude prices pushed above $125 a barrel on Friday and headed for a fifth straight weekly gain
on heightened concerns over tensions with Iran and cuts in supply.
News that Iran has sharply stepped up its controversial uranium enrichment efforts, in a report from the United Nation's International Atomic Energy Agency, pushed both Brent and U.S. crude to intraday peaks.
"The IAEA report caused this pop up," said Dan Flynn, analyst at PFGBest Research in Chicago.
Brent April crude rose $1.63 to $125.25 by 1:11 p.m. EST (1811 GMT), having reached $125.32, the highest intraday price since May 2.
U.S. April crude rose $1.47 to $109.30
, having hit a high of $109.36, and up a seventh straight session
, the longest string of gains since a 10-day stretch starting in late December 2009 and extending into January 2010.
Oil markets had already been reacting to fears about supply from Iran after Tehran said on Sunday it has stopped selling crude to British and French companies.
Other European buyers have cut back on purchases from Iran ahead of a European Union embargo on imports of Iran's oil effective July 1 and some of Iran's biggest customers in Asia including China have also reduced purchases.
"The supportive factors are on the supply side - Iran and Iran and Iran, with a bit of Syria and Sudan," said Christopher Bellew, a broker at Jefferies Bache in London. "It would not be at these numbers if it was not for the supply-side problems."
Saudi Arabia increased exports sharply in the past week and was offering extra supplies to its biggest customers worldwide in what industry sources said appeared to be a bid to tame rising crude prices.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said there was a case to tap the nation's strategic petroleum reserve in some circumstances.
Last summer, the Obama administration joined other Western nations to release a total of 60 million barrels of oil in response to supply disruptions in Libya.
Crude futures' recent rally has pushed a closely watched technical indicator, the relative strength index, above 70 for both Brent and U.S. crude. A reading above 70 is considered a signal of an overbought condition by technical traders, and a possible headwind for the current rally.
Brent's premium to U.S. crude CL-LCO1=R weakened to below $15 a barrel intraday, but recovered back to near $16.
Inventories at Cushing, the delivery point for the U.S. light sweet crude contract, fell last week. The Brent/U.S. crude spread had widened to more than $20 earlier in the month on rising stocks in the U.S. Midwest.
Crude trading volumes were tepid, with Brent turnover 32 percent and U.S. volume 35 percent under their respective 30-day averages just after the noon hour in New York.