Oil prices rose in Asian trade today as a weaker US currency made the dollar-priced commodity cheaper and spurred the demand.

Upbeat employment data in the United States also buoyed the sentiment and fuelled hopes that demand will improve in the world’s biggest oil consuming nation, analysts said.

New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, was up 15 cents at $93.21 a barrel in the morning trade and Brent North Sea crude for May gained 43 cents to $109.40.

Brent’s April contract closed 90 cents higher at $109.42 as it expired yesterday.

A weaker dollar “helped to support crude oil prices”, said Ker Chung Yang, senior investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore.

As oil is traded in dollars, the commodity becomes cheaper when the US currency weakens, prompting investors to buy, and resulting in higher prices.

Oil prices were also supported by data from the Department of Labour showing new US claims for unemployment benefits came in at 332,000 in the week ending March 9, a drop of 10,000 compared with the prior week.

“US jobless claims were the fuel for the fire... as they continued to show an improving labour market,” said a report by IG Markets in Singapore.

(This article was published on March 15, 2013)
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