oil barrel

Brent crude remained steady today, supported by data from the world’s two top oil consumers, China and the US, offering a sign of hope that the global economy might recover modestly in 2013.

Brent managed to stay at $116.41 a barrel, after sliding by 25 cents, while US crude dropped by 45 cents to $97.32 per barrel, reported Reuters.

The global economic prospect received a boost after US payrolls increased by 157,000 in January 2013, with upward revisions for November and December 2012.

The Institute for Supply Management also said that the index of national factory activity jumped to its highest since April 2012.

In China the manufacturing sector remained on track, while its services sector expanded for the fourth-straight month in January.

In addition, the eurozone manufacturing sector, even after a contraction, had its best month in a year, indicating that the worst might have come to an end.

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By GlobalData

Oil prices also got a boost from supply concerns as a result of continuing and intensifying tensions in the Middle East region.

Last Sunday 33 people were killed when a suicide bomber blew up a truck packed with explosives in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

Iran, which has faced stiff sanctions from US and European countries due to its controversial nuclear strategy, on Sunday said that it is open to a US offer of direct talks on its nuclear programme.

On the other hand, Yemen’s state news agency Saba reported that a ship which was intercepted in January off its coast, was an Iranian vessel trying to smuggle explosives and surface-to-air missiles to the country.

Image: US payrolls, which increased by 157,000 in January, gave a boost to the global economic outlook. Photo courtesy of Lars Christopher Nøttaasen.