SINGAPORE–Oil prices hovered above US$96 per barrel on Friday in Asia as Europe’s debt crisis undermined confidence the continent will avoid recession next year. Benchmark crude for January delivery was up 11 U.S. cents at US$96.28 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract last settled on Wednesday in New York at US$96.17, down by US$1.84. Markets in the U.S. were closed Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Brent crude for January delivery fell 40 cents at US$107.38 a barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange in London. In other Nymex trading, heating oil rose 1.6 U.S. cents to US$2.99 per gallon and gasoline futures gained 1.9 U.S. cents to US$2.52 per gallon, while natural gas added 1.4 U.S. cents to end at US$3.47 per 1,000 cubic feet. Markets close early in the U.S. later Friday for Thanksgiving. Investor concerns that fiscal austerity measures to lower Europe’s debt levels will hurt global economic growth and oil demand has helped pull crude back from above US$103 last week.