Oil prices mixed in Asia after strong US data
Oil prices were mixed in Asian trade Thursday, taking a breather after surging on strong US economic data, analysts said.
New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for May delivery, gained 10 cents to $100.34 a barrel in late morning trade, following a $1.07 jump Wednesday.
Brent North Sea crude for May eased 11 cents to $106.95.
"Crude made a huge move overnight rise due to the renewed strength in the US economy on better-than-expected durable goods numbers," Kelly Teoh, managing director at I.R. Resources in Singapore, told AFP.
"The easing during Asian hours is just a breather after such a strong surge," Teoh said.
The US Commerce Department said orders for durable goods -- a key measure for the economy -- rose 2.2 percent in February from the prior month, beating analysts' expectations for a 1.0 percent decline.
The weekly US crude stockpiles report also showed a decline of 1.3 million barrels at the Cushing, Oklahoma oil-trading hub for the US benchmark, suggesting expansion in economic activity.
European benchmark Brent crude was also taking a breather after rising on concerns over supply disruption in oil producers Libya and Nigeria.
In Libya, rebels pressing for autonomy for the country's eastern Cyrenaica region have been blockading terminals since July, leading to a decline in exports from 1.5 million barrels a day to just 250,000.
And Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell on Wednesday said it had declared a "force majeure" on crude from Nigeria as it struggles to repair a sabotaged pipeline.
"Force majeure" is a legal term releasing a company from contractual obligations when faced with circumstances beyond its control.
Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil producer, accounting for more than two million barrels per day.
"While geopolitical events will influence price of Brent, WTI prices will be guided by economic data from the US," said Sanjeev Gupta, head of the Asia-Pacific oil and gas practice at professional services firm Ernst & Young.