US economic signs push oil prices up


SINGAPORE–Oil prices hovered above US$94 a barrel Friday in Asia amid signs the U.S. economy may be improving.

Benchmark crude for December delivery was up 22 cents at US$94.29 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose US$1.56 to settle at US$94.07 in New York on Thursday. Brent crude was up 10 cents at US$110.93 a barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange in London. In other Nymex trading, heating oil rose 0.7 cents to US$3.05 per gallon and gasoline futures gained 1 cent at US$2.65 per gallon. Natural gas added 3.8 cents at US$3.82 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Crude has jumped about 25 percent from US$75 on Oct. 4 amid growing investor optimism that the U.S. economy will avoid a recession. On Thursday, the Labor Department reported that the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits dipped slightly last week to the lowest level in five weeks. And the Commerce Department said factory orders had the biggest jump in six months in September. “The general global economic outlook inched away from the edge of collapse,” energy trader and consultant The Schork Group said in a report. Investors will be closely watching the latest unemployment figures for October due to be released later Friday. Doubts that a plan announced by European leaders last week will contain Greece’s debt crisis weighed on oil prices.