Oil higher in Asian trade

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Dec 27 2011 11:12 AM | Updated as of Dec 27 2011 07:12 PM

SINGAPORE - Oil was higher in Asian trade Tuesday amid thin trading volumes with Middle East geopolitical tensions seen supporting prices in the long-term, analysts said.

In morning trade, New York's main contract, light sweet crude for February delivery, was two cents higher at $99.70 a barrel from Friday's close and Brent North Sea crude for February delivery advanced 21 cents to $108.17.

Crude markets were closed Monday.

Underlying concerns over tensions between Iran and the West will likely underpin crude prices despite ongoing worries about the weak global economy, analysts said.

"Ever present geo-political fears are likely to continue to buoy the market," analysts from National Australia Bank said in a recent commentary.

"Threats of an oil embargo being placed on Iran, OPEC's second largest producer, represent significant upside risk to prices."

The United States and European powers have sought to step up global pressure on Iran after the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, came its closest yet to accusing Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons.

Tehran says its nuclear program is for civilian purposes.

Analysts have said any heightened tensions may affect oil supplies from Iran which usually pass through the Strait of Hormuz, a vital route in the Gulf through which more than a third of the world's ship-borne oil passes.