Brent crude rises towards $118
A sharp drop in Saudi Arabia's crude output boosts brent price.
Brent crude rose slightly toward $118 a barrel this morning, underpinned by expectations of improving global growth despite some weak US data dampening prices at the end of last week, supported by tensions in the Middle East.
US economic data last week suggested the world's largest oil consumer hit a bump on its road to recovery in January with industrial production falling and manufacturing off to a weak start. But a rebound in factory activity in New York state in February may indicate any setback would be temporary.
Brent crude edged up 12 cents to $117.78 a barrel by in early morning trade after posting its first weekly loss since the first half of January.
US crude slipped 23 cents to $95.63 following a small gain last week. Oil trading volumes are likely to be lean with US investors away for a public holiday.
In the Middle East, sanctions on Iran are still curbing supply from the third-largest Opec producer.
Talks between Iran and major world powers on Tehran's nuclear programme remained deadlocked and investors are looking ahead to another meeting on February 26 for any signs of progress.
US sanctions that came into effect on February 6 are killing Turkey's gold-for-gas trade with Iran and have stopped state-owned lender Halkbank from processing other nations' energy payments to the Opec oil producer.
A sharp cut in Saudi Arabia's crude output has also supported Brent. Exports from the world's top crude oil exporter fell for the third month running in December, but the fall in shipments was less dramatic than the drop in oil production, official data showed.