Oil prices extend gains in Asian trade

SINGAPORE (AFP) - Oil prices extended gains in Asian trade Tuesday, with strong manufacturing data from major economies auguring well for demand, analysts said.

Investors are also keeping an eye on a meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) oil cartel this week regarding output levels, against a backdrop of unrest in member nation Libya.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for January delivery, was up 33 cents at US$94.15 (S$118.25) a barrel in mid-morning trade, while Brent North Sea crude for January added one cent to $111.46.

"Oil firmed as global manufacturing reports impressed and Libyan exports slowed to a trickle on the domestic strikes and protests, countering US dollar gains," Singapore's UOB bank said in a research note.

China's manufacturing growth in November maintained its strong pace from the previous month to stay at a 19-month high, official data showed.

The forward-looking purchasing manager indices for the manufacturing sectors in Europe and the United States also climbed, supporting a slightly more bullish outlook for the market.

OPEC will meet in Vienna on Wednesday to decide on whether to change its output level of around 30 million barrels a day.

Ahead of the meeting, however, Saudi Arabia, the world's leading oil exporter, said it was satisfied with current prices as well as global supply-and-demand levels.

Kuwait oil minister Mustafa al-Shamali also said ahead of the meeting that he did not expect OPEC, which pumps about 35 percent of the world's crude, to alter its production level.

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