Oil up in Asia on bargain hunting



SINGAPORE – Oil prices rose in Asian trade Monday as traders bought up cheap crude following a price plunge last week as investors waited for fresh economic data from China, analysts said.

New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in May, added 29 cents to $88.30 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for June delivery gained 28 cents to $99.93.

“We’re seeing a bit of bargain hunting that is keeping prices up,” Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney, told AFP.

“Dealers are waiting for flash PMI (purchasing managers index) figures from China due tomorrow.”

Prices dropped last week on weak Chinese economic data, with Brent falling to a nine-month low before recovering on market speculation that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) plans to cut output.

China’s economic growth slowed to 7.7 percent in the first quarter, a surprise result that came in below expectations and raised concerns that the nation’s recovery is faltering.

China is the world’s biggest energy-consuming nation and the health of its economy is closely watched by the oil markets.

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