Oil crosses $80 in Asian trade

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Oct 01 2010 11:35 AM | Updated as of Oct 01 2010 07:35 PM

SINGAPORE - Crude prices pushed through the 80-dollar mark in Asian trade Friday on better-than-expected US employment numbers and as protests rocked oil-producing nation Ecuador, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in November, rose 15 cents to 80.12 dollars a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for November delivery gained nine cents to 82.40 dollars.

Crude markets continued their rise from Thursday where prices in New York had surged to seven-week highs.

"The better-than-expected employment data and protests in OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) member nation Ecuador supported prices," the Commonwealth Bank of Australia said in a report.

The US Labor Department released figures late Thursday showing the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits fell more than expected last week, indicating an economic breather in the world's largest energy consumer.

Claims for the week to September 25 beat most analysts' expectations by falling to 453,000, down 16,000 from the previous week's revised figure. It was the third dip in four weeks.

Oil prices were also boosted by riots rocking Ecuador, which declared a state of emergency after disgruntled policemen surrounded president Rafael Correa in a hospital.

Earlier Friday, Correa managed to escape the hospital amid a shootout between the military and the protesting policemen, who were objecting to a measure lawmakers had approved cutting their bonus payments.

At least 50 people have been injured in Quito during clashes between rebel police and Correa supporters, with more casualties reported in other cities.