Oil prices continued their rally today, driven by the rise in planned US business spending for December 2012 and encouraging global economic data.

Brent crude, which has been steady above $113 in the last few days, gathered momentum today and moved up by 16 cents to reach $113.64 a barrel, while US crude surged further up by 44 cents to touch $96.88, reports Reuters.

Although the US business spending data raised hopes of an economic growth rise in the world’s largest oil consumer, investors remained vigilant over a US monetary policy meeting and economic reports of both the US and China – all due this week.

A Reuters poll predicts no change in the US nonfarm payroll data, scheduled for release on Friday, with the economy creating a similar number of jobs (about 155,000) in January as there were in December.

"Investors remained vigilant over a US monetary policy meeting and economic reports."

Developments in the Middle East have also impacted oil prices. Iran’s launch of a live monkey into space raised concerns for Western countries that the technology could deliver a nuclear warhead, while a suspected Islamist militant attack on another Algerian oil pipeline also raised concerns.

Protests continued in Egypt, despite a curfew being put in place as a result of a state of emergency that was declared in cities along the Suez Canal. The death toll in the country increased to about 51 people, Reuters reported.

However, OPEC Secretary-General Abdullah al-Badri eased concerns of investors, saying that the agency will not change oil output in 2013 as the world oil market is likely to be well supplied.

Prices were also boosted with the closure of Hess Corp’s New Jersey refinery, which is anticipated to increase reliance on imports and supplies from the Gulf Coast.

Image: Protests in Egypt propped up oil prices. Photo courtesy of US federal government.