Upbeat economic data brightens oil prospects in US

Brent crude rose above $124 a barrel yesterday as upbeat economic data from China and the US brightened oil demand outlook.

The uptick was supported by concerns over disruption of Iran oil supplies, with supplies tapering following western sanctions against Tehran for its disputed nuclear programme.

US jobless claims were down last week, in another sign of improving labour market conditions. However other economic data pointed to a slowdown in manufacturing sector last month while construction spending fell in January.

The latest snapshot of US economy comes after a report on Wednesday showing the economy grew a bit faster than initially thought in the fourth quarter.

According to a government survey, China's factories grew more than expected in February as new export order position of big companies improved.

In London, ICE Brent crude for April delivery rose to $1.51 at $124.17 a barrel off the session high $124.65, while front-month Brent crude hit an intra day high of $125.55 on Friday, the highest since 2 May.