Data released yesterday by the US government showed housing starts rose 9.3 per cent in November, its highest in more than a year, giving a boost to global financial markets including crude futures, analysts said.
"It was an upbeat session in overnight equity and commodity markets, spurred on by positive economic data," analysts from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia said in a commentary. "Oil also posted robust gains... The price was further bolstered by the US housing starts data which confirms the US economy is again making modest improvements," they said.
The United States is the world's biggest oil consumer. Crude prices were also boosted by data from Germany's Ifo economic institute that said business sentiment had risen in December against expectations, reducing fears of imminent recession in Europe's economic powerhouse.