Crude oil futures pulled away from six-month lows during early European trading hours on Friday, supported by upbeat Chinese import data, although expectations for further tapering to the Federal Reserve''s stimulus program weighed.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light sweet crude futures for delivery in February traded at USD92.52 a barrel during European morning trade, up 0.93%.
The February contract settled down 0.73% on Thursday to end at USD91.66 a barrel.
Oil futures were likely to find support at USD91.25 a barrel, Thursday''s low and resistance at USD94.17 a barrel, the high from January 8.
Oil prices found support after data showed that China''s crude imports rose by 13% from a year earlier to a record 6.31 million barrels per day in December.
China is the world''s second biggest oil consumer.
Separately, ongoing unrest at Libyan ports seized by protesters also supported prices, although exports from those ports could resume by the weekend.
Libya is now reportedly producing about 650,000 barrels of oil a day, about half of normal capacity through up from 100,000 barrels a day produced in 2013, when protesters disrupted operations a key fields.
But expectations for the Federal Reserve to continue tapering its bond-buying program during 2014 weighed, after data on Thursday showed that U.S. jobless claims fell more-than-expected last week.
The Labor Department said the number of people who filed for unemployment assistance last week fell by 15,000 to 330,000 from the previous week’s revised total of 345,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to decline by 10,000.
Traders were eyeing U.S. nonfarm payrolls data to be released later in the day for further indications on the level of the job market''s recovery.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange, Brent oil futures for February delivery gained 0.43% to trade at USD106.85 a barrel, with the spread between the Brent and crude contracts standing at USD14.33 a barrel.
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