Oil prices jumped above $83 a barrel Monday in Asia amid signs of strong Chinese demand for crude and a weakening U.S. dollar.
Benchmark crude for February delivery was up 80 cents to $83.55 a barrel at late afternoon, in electronic trading, on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday, the contract rose 9 cents to settle at $82.75.
China said Sunday that oil imports rose 14 percent last year to a record high in December, part of a 56 percent surge in overall imports last month. The better than expected Chinese figures helped investors brush off Friday’s disappointing U.S. jobless report, which showed the economy lost 85,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate was steady at 10 percent.
A weaker dollar also helped boost oil prices, as investors buy commodities as a hedge against inflation.
The euro rose to $1.4530 on Monday from $1.4430 on Friday while the dollar fell to 92.20 yen from 92.54.
Crude prices have spiked 20 percent in the last month as a rash of cold winter weather in parts of the U.S., Europe and Asia boost demand for oil products such as heating oil.
Supplies were threatened in Nigeria, where unidentified gunmen attacked a Chevron Corp. crude oil pipeline, cutting production by 20,000 barrels a day, a company spokesman said Saturday.
In other Nymex trading in February contracts, heating oil rose 2.09 cents to $2.22 a gallon and gasoline gained 2.15 cents to $2.18 a gallon. Natural gas futures were down 16.5 cents to $5.58.
In London, Brent crude for February delivery rose 72 cents to $82.08 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.