Oil prices rose above $77 a barrel today as Asian stock markets were boosted by optimism about a recovery.

For March delivery, US oil prices increased by 22¢ to $77.45 a barrel at 7:58am GMT, while London ICE Brent crude rose by 26¢ to $76.32 a barrel, according to Reuters.

Oil prices increased by over 3%, one of the biggest gains since 30 September for a front month contract.

The MSCI All Country Asia ex-Japan resources and energy index was the main factor for the increase in Asian shares, recording a 2.5% hike on strong commodity prices.

China-based CNOOC‘s shares increased by 11% after its 2010 production forecast surpassed predictions.

Oil prices have been affected by an industry report, which showed that the US crude stockpiles rose beyond expectations, hindering optimism of a recovery in demand.