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Oil higher in Asia on positive Japanese data
by Staff Writers
Singapore (AFP) Jan 31, 2012

Oil prices rose in Asia Tuesday as traders reacted to better-than-expected economic data from Japan, analysts said.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in March, gained 47 cents to $99.25 a barrel in the afternoon.

Brent North Sea crude for March delivery was up 70 cents to $111.45.

"Oil prices are higher ... reacting largely to the positive Japanese economic data showing increased spending," said Ken Hasegawa, energy desk manager at Newedge brokerage in Japan.

Japan said Tuesday that household spending in the world's third largest economy rose for the first time since the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Industrial output also rose 4.0 percent in December, exceeding market expectations of a 2.8 percent jump and a reversal from November's 2.7 percent dip.

The upbeat data showed a slight rebound in the Japanese economy, which was hit hard by the March disaster that left more than 19,000 people dead and missing, and triggered the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Traders are also closely watching the latest efforts by eurozone leaders to resolve Greece's debt woes.

Following a European Union summit that saw agreement on a new deal to avert future huge deficits, EU president Herman Van Rompuy called for a new deal with Athens "by the end of the week" on a second bailout.

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