Oil prices mixed in Asia trade

SINGAPORE- Oil prices were mixed in Asian trade Friday after posting solid gains in New York on optimism over US economic growth and concerns about supply disruptions in Nigeria.

New York’s main contract West Texas Intermediate for May delivery was up eight cents at $101.36 a barrel in mid-morning trade, while Brent North Sea crude for May settlement fell 13 cents to $107.70.

Analysts said prices were being supported by robust consumer spending in the United States, the world’s biggest economy and user of oil.

The Commerce Department on Thursday said the economy grew at an annual rate of 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, stronger than the 2.4 percent previously estimated, as consumer spending picked up.

Singapore’s United Overseas Bank said in a market commentary that the growth data was “adding optimism to the US economy”.

It said there were also “concerns about Nigerian oil supplies being disrupted after Shell announced a major Nigerian pipeline being sabotaged”.

Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell on Wednesday said it had declared a “force majeure” on crude from Nigeria as it struggles to repair the pipeline.

“Force majeure” is a legal term releasing a company from contractual obligations when faced with circumstances beyond its control.

Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer, accounting for more than two million barrels per day.