SINGAPORE – Oil prices jumped on Monday as falling U.S. oil rig counts and conflict in producer Libya helped stretch a rally from last week when crude surged the most since 2011.
Brent crude for March delivery <LCOc1> was up 1.3 percent at $58.57 a barrel by 0003 GMT after rising as high as $59.06 earlier in the session.
The crude benchmark gained more than 9 percent last week, its biggest weekly rise since February 2011. Brent has climbed more than 18 percent in the past two weeks, its best such showing since 1998.
U.S. crude <CLc1> was up 2 percent at $52.74 a barrel, after hitting a session high of $53.40.
The number of rigs drilling for oil in the United States fell by 83 this week to 1,140 – the lowest since December 2011 – a survey showed on Friday, a clear sign of the pressure that tumbling crude prices have put on oil producers.
Stronger-than-expected growth in U.S. jobs in January helped spur the rally on Friday, as nonfarm payrolls increased 257,000, outstripping Wall Street forecasts.
The sustained gains in oil prices came even as weekend data showed further economic weakness in China, the world’s No. 2 oil consumer.
China’s trade performance slumped in January, with exports falling 3.3 percent from year-ago levels while imports tumbled 19.9 percent, far worse than analysts had expected and highlighting a deepening slowdown.
Elsewhere, a strike by security guards has closed Libya’s eastern oil port of Hariga, the country’s last functioning export port apart from two offshore fields, a port official said on Sunday.
This article was written by Manolo Serapio Jr from Reuters and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.