Oil Prices Rise in Asia After Strong US Data

Oil Prices Rise in Asia After Strong US Data

Oil prices edge higher in Asian trade on robust U.S. consumer data and concerns over supply disruptions in Libya and Nigeria.

SINGAPORE -- Oil prices edged higher in Asian trade Thursday on robust U.S. consumer data and concerns over supply disruptions in Libya and Nigeria, analysts said.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for May delivery, gained 12 cents to $100.38 a barrel in afternoon trade, after surging $1.07 on Wednesday.

Brent North Sea crude for May gained two cents to $107.05.

"Crude made a huge move overnight rise due to the renewed strength in the U.S. economy on better-than-expected durable goods numbers," said Kelly Teoh, managing director at I.R. Resources in Singapore.

WTI extended gains in Asian hours but the rise was less steep as the market took a breather.

The U.S. Commerce Department said orders for durable goods -- a key measure for the economy -- rose 2.2% in February from the prior month, beating analysts' expectations for a 1.0% decline.

The weekly U.S. crude stockpiles report also showed a decline of 1.3 million barrels at the Cushing, Okla., oil-trading hub for the U.S. benchmark, suggesting expansion in economic activity.

Africa Troubles Sway Europe Benchmark

European benchmark Brent crude was being influenced by concerns over supply disruption in oil producers Libya and Nigeria.

In Libya, rebels pressing for autonomy for the country's eastern Cyrenaica region have been blockading terminals since July, leading to a decline in exports from 1.5 million barrels a day to just 250,000.

And Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell (IW 1000/1) on Wednesday said it had declared a force majeure on crude from Nigeria as it struggles to repair a sabotaged pipeline.

Force majeure is a legal term releasing a company from contractual obligations when faced with circumstances beyond its control.

Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil producer, accounting for more than two million barrels per day.

"While geopolitical events will influence price of Brent, WTI prices will be guided by economic data from the US," said Sanjeev Gupta, head of the Asia-Pacific oil and gas practice at professional services firm Ernst & Young.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014

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