SINGAPORE: Oil prices rose in Asia on Monday as dealers digested mixed US jobs data while anticipating a surge in fuel demand during winter months in the northern hemisphere, analysts said.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for December delivery rose 32 cents to $78.97 while Brent crude for December was up 45 cents at $83.84 in afternoon trade.
The US Labor Department said Friday the economy added 214,000 jobs last month, marking the ninth straight month of growth above 200,000 despite missing the 235,000 consensus analyst estimate.
The unemployment rate slipped to a six-year low of 5.9 percent.
Desmond Chua, market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore, said the data raised investor optimism as it “underlined persistent jobs growth in the United States.”
Singapore’s United Overseas Bank said oil prices were also supported on “expectations that the cold weather could support petroleum products demand” despite a sell-off last week following price cuts by Saudi Arabia.
Dealers are closely monitoring the situation in rebel-held east Ukraine, following reports Sunday of Russian military reinforcements there that has raised fears of a return to all-out fighting in violation of a ceasefire agreement with Kiev.
Russia has denied being involved in the Ukrainian civil strife, but openly gives the pro-Kremlin rebels political and humanitarian backing.
Russia is one of the world’s top oil producers and Ukraine is a major conduit for Russian natural gas exports to Europe.