Oil prices increase in Asian trade after eurozone’s economic concerns ease


SINGAPORE–Oil prices rose in Asian trade Friday on news that commitments to back a Greek debt swap had passed a key threshold, analysts said. New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in April, gained 53 cents to US$107.11 per barrel while Brent North Sea crude also for April was up 33 cents at US$125.77 in afternoon trade. Barclays Capital said investors were “buoyed by news that progress was being made on a deal to swap Greek debt, lowering concerns of eurozone economic turmoil.” Positive jobs data from the United States — the world’s biggest economy — also helped boost prices, it added. Greece on Thursday appeared to have clinched a high-stakes debt swap, as a deadline for bondholders to accept huge losses on their Greek holdings passed. Oil prices were also supported by data from the U.S. Department of Labor signaling a fragile recovery in the U.S. jobs market. Analysts expect further data due to be released later Friday to show that the U.S. economy added a net 206,000 jobs in February, with the unemployment rate remaining unchanged at 8.3 percent from December.