Oil prices hold on China data
Brent crude futures held above $113 today, buoyed by hopes for a rebound in year-end economic growth in China, the world's second-biggest oil consumer, and with simmering tension in the Middle East providing additional support.
Brent had gained 37 cents to $113.59 a barrel by 6.35am, after settling 78 cents lower at $113.22. U.S. oil rose 7 cents to $92.19, after ending 3 cents higher.
"While the overall GDP numbers were in line with expectations, retail sales, industrial output and other numbers are stronger if you look at the break down," said Ben Le Brun, a market analyst at OptionsXpress in Sydney.
"I would expect a continuation of the momentum on the back of these numbers."
China's refinery throughput in September rose 7 per cent from a year earlier to a record daily rate of 9.43 million barrels, after new refining capacity came on stream. Daily runs were around 6 per cent, or 540,000 barrels-per-day (bpd), higher than the 8.89 million bpd in August.
Supply disruption concerns stemming from Iran's disputed nuclear programme are also putting a floor under oil prices.
In another sign of Tehran defying international demands to curb its nuclear programme, Western diplomats said Iran was believed to be increasing its uranium enrichment capacity at its Fordow plant buried deep underground.
"The geopolitical worries in the Middle East are supporting prices," Mr Le Brun said. "We will see prices surge if there is further escalation, but I hope the United States and Iran are able to resolve their differences without that."
Oil also got support from a surge in US housing starts. Groundbreaking on new US homes surged in September to its fastest in more than four years, signalling the housing sector's recovery is gaining traction.
Gains were capped by data showing that crude stocks in the United States rose more than expected last week as imports grew. Inventory climbed by 2.86 million barrels in the week to October 12th, the Energy Information Administration reported.
Imports of crude rose by 126,000 bpd to 8.31 million bpd during the week.