Oil prices were up in Asian trade today, on upbeat US durable goods data and geopolitical concerns in Egypt and Algeria, analysts said.

New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in March, gained 20 cents to $96.64 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for March delivery rose 12 cents to $113.60.

“Some positive data out of the US and geopolitical turmoil in Egypt and Algeria are providing support to oil,” said Victor Shum, Managing Director of IHS Purvin and Gertz in Singapore.

According to data, US orders for durable long-lasting goods such as vehicles, computers and machinery surged 4.6 per cent in December from the previous month, led by a jump in commercial aircraft orders.

It was the seventh increase in the past eight months and well above the 1.6 rise expected by analysts, adding to the slew of improving economic data from the world’s largest economy and crude consumer.

Meanwhile, deadly street clashes gripped Egypt for a fifth straight day yesterday with President Mohammed Mursi declaring a month-long state of emergency and slapping night-time curfews in the Port Said, Suez and Ismailiya provinces.

In Algeria, two security guards protecting a gas pipeline were killed and seven others were wounded yesterday in a fresh attack by Islamists southeast of the capital Algiers.

The attack comes nearly a fortnight after a deadly Islamist attack on a gas plant in Algeria’s southern Sahara desert, in a hostage-taking siege that ended with the death of almost 40 captives, mostly foreigners.

(This article was published on January 29, 2013)
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