Oil prices up in Asia as China exports rise

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SINGAPORE: Oil prices rose in Asian trade Monday, boosted by robust Chinese export data and a solid US jobs report that boosted hopes for a pick-up in demand, analysts said.

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US benchmark, West Texas Intermediate for July delivery, gained 20 cents to $102.86 a barrel in afternoon trade, while Brent North Sea crude for July rose eight cents to $108.69.

China’s trade surplus surged in May, official data showed Sunday, as export growth accelerated sharply while imports saw a surprise fall.

Exports from the world’s second biggest economy increased seven percent to $195.47 billion year-on-year, while imports declined 1.6 percent to $159.55 billion. This resulted in a trade surplus of $35.92 billion, up 74.9 percent year-on-year.

“The weekend report comes as a quite unexpected surprise on the upside, underpinning the demand for commodities,” Desmond Chua, an analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore, told Agence France-Presse.

In Washington on Friday the Labor Department said the US economy added a net 217,000 jobs in May, in line with expectations and marking the fourth straight month above 200,000. The figures are the latest in a string of data out of the United States indicating a recovery is well on track.

China and the United States are the world’s biggest energy users and any sign of improvement in their economies lifts expectations of a rise in demand for oil.

Investors are keeping an eye on Ukraine after its new Western-friendly President Petro Poroshenko vowed to end the fighting with pro-Russia separatist rebels in the east.

Investors fear a full-blown conflict in the former Soviet state, a conduit for a quarter of European gas imports from Russia, will disrupt supplies and send energy prices soaring.

AFP

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