SINGAPORE, Jan 11, 2010 (AFP) - Oil prices were back above 83 dollars in Asian trade Monday as a cold snap in the United States and northern Asia powered higher demand for heating fuel, analysts said.
New York's main futures contract, light sweet crude for February delivery, jumped 65 cents to 83.40 dollars a barrel.
Brent North Sea crude for February delivery rose 64 cents to 82.01 dollars.
"A prolonged cold snap is going to chew up some of those very high inventories of heating oil and middle distillates," said Jason Feer, vice president and general manager for Asia Pacific at Argus Media.
"What you really need to see is... some indication of sustained heavy duty economic growth and so far the signals from that front have been quite mixed. So what you're looking at in the short run is pretty much weather-related," he added.
The United States, the world's biggest economy, lost 85,000 jobs in December while the unemployment rate held unchanged at 10 percent, the US Labor Department said Friday in a report highlighting a slow and painful recovery from recession.
The report on non-farm payrolls was a disappointment to those hoping for growth in jobs, which is critical to any rebound for the US economy, a key engine for global growth.
Analysts said the data was far worse than the consensus expectation for no change in overall employment levels, and came amid a wide array of predictions ranging from steep losses to modest gains.