Oil was up in Asian trade Monday after an upbeat US jobs report bolstered confidence the US economic recovery is on track.
US stocks surged to record highs following the report, with the buoyant mood also lifting the oil markets because a strong US economy — the biggest in the world — will mean greater demand for crude and other energy products.
New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in June added 91 cents to $96.52 a barrel in mid-morning Asian trade and Brent North Sea crude for June delivery increased 67 cents to $104.86.
The US Labor Department on Friday reported the US economy added 165,000 jobs in April, and revised sharply upwards its numbers for the previous two months, helping to send the unemployment rate down to 7.5 percent.
The data offered a significantly brighter picture of the jobs situation than that for March.
“While still well short of the sort of numbers that would accelerate US growth and really push the unemployment rate meaningfully lower, it (the data) did suggest once again that the US recovery remains on track,” said Jason Hughes, head of sales trading at CMC Markets in Singapore.
Other analysts said tensions in the oil-producing Middle East region following Israeli air raids in Syria helped boost oil prices.
“Dealers are concerned that supply will be disrupted,” Kelly Teoh, market strategist at IG Markets in Singapore, told AFP. “I expect prices to remain at a higher level until some form of resolution is found.”
Israeli warplanes early Sunday hit three military sites outside the Syrian capital Damascus, the second such reported attack in 48 hours, prompting Syria’s government to warn that the regional situation was now “more dangerous”.
The raids reportedly targeted weapons bound for Lebanese group Hezbollah and raised new concerns of a conflict spillover.
Developments in the Middle East are closely watched by traders as the region is home to the world’s largest oil producers.