Oil barrel

Oil prices have slightly increased today, mainly driven by revival signs in China’s growth and positive data from the US.

Brent crude rose by 28 cents to $111.38 a barrel, while US oil increased by 16 cents to $95.65, reported Reuters.

A sharp jump in the previous session due to a hostage crisis in an oil gas field in Algeria restricted any further rises.

The fourth-quarter growth in China, which at 7.9% surpassed analysts’ predictions of 7.8%, coupled with a fall in the unemployment claims and rise in residential construction in US, have supported price gains.

Industrial output in China also increased 10.3% in December 2012, compared to the previous year, again exceeding analysts’ expectations of 10.1%.

Oil demand too jumped to a record high in December for the world’s second-biggest oil consumer, and is expected to rise further as recent data shows that the country has rebounded from the slump witnessed in the beginning of 2012.

In the US, the drop in number of citizens filing new claims to receive unemployment support reached a five-year low last week, while residential construction saw a spurt in December, indicating that the country’s economic resurgence is on track.

Oil prices also received a push over supply concerns, following a seizure of a gas facility in OPEC producer Algeria, by Islamic militants.

An Algerian security source was quoted by Reuters as saying that Algerian troops attacked the gas field to free hundreds of hostages. In the operation, it is believed about 30 people were killed, which included many foreigners and around 11 Islamist captors.

Image: China’s fourth-quarter growth and a fall in unemployment claims and rise in residential construction in US have supported prices. Photo courtesy of Lars Christopher Nøttaasen.