Oil prices jumped above $79 a barrel to a 2009 high on Monday in Asia as investors looked to the corporate earnings of big U.S. retailers this week for signs the consumer may be regaining confidence.

Benchmark crude for November delivery rose as much as 52 cents to $79.05 a barrel but later fell back and was up 24 cents at $78.77 by midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added 95 cents to settle at $78.53 on Friday.

Last week, crude broke out of a five-month trading range between $65 and $75 a barrel on a weakening U.S. dollar and expectations that oil demand will eventually recover as the global economy grows next year.

Investors will be eyeing third quarter results from retailers this week for clues about the strength of the U.S. consumer. Apple Inc., McDonald’s Corp., appliance maker Whirlpool Corp. and toy maker Hasbro Inc. are among those reporting this week.

In other Nymex trading, heating oil rose 0.62 cent to $2.03 a gallon. Gasoline for November delivery slipped 0.48 cent to $1.97 a gallon. Natural gas for November delivery jumped 6.2 cents to $4.84 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent crude for December delivery rose 13 cents to $77.12 on the ICE Futures exchange.

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