Oil prices climb on strong US data

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World oil prices rose on Thursday in the wake of positive economic data from key energy consumer the United States.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in January added 18 cents to 86.02 dollars a barrel in London trade.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for January, firmed 21 cents to 84.07 dollars.

"Crude oil prices extended gains ... supported by gains in Wall Street and Asian markets after stronger than expected US economic data (Wednesday) brought risk appetite back to the market," said Myrto Sokou, an analyst at Sucden Financial.

"It seems that the persistent concerns about a contagious debt crisis in the eurozone have been overshadowed by stronger-than-expected macroeconomic figures from the US and China."

Economic data on Wednesday showed improvements in US unemployment, consumer spending and wages.

Prices also rose despite news of a surprise gain in US crude reserves which were up by one million barrels in the week ending November 19 compared with market expectations for a heavy drop of 1.9 million barrels.

The oil market remains under pressure, meanwhile, amid stubborn fears over the impact of the eurozone crisis and simmering tensions on the Korean peninsula.

World financial markets have been rocked this week by eurozone debt worries and North Korea firing dozens of artillery shells onto a South Korean island on Tuesday, killing four people and triggering an exchange of fire.

© 2010 AFP

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