LONDON: Oil prices rose 1 percent on Monday, hitting a fresh 15-month high near $84 a barrel, supported by data showing China s crude oil imports surged by nearly 25 percent in December and as the dollar weakened.
The prolonged cold snap in the US and Europe continued to boost demand for heating fuel, lending support to oil prices.
US crude for February delivery rose $1.12 cents to $83.87 a barrel by 1150 GMT, off an earlier peak of $83.95, the highest price since October 2008.
London Brent crude gained 94 cents to $82.31.
But oil is still 43 percent below its July 2008 high of more than $147 a barrel.
The weak US dollar, cold weather and robust Chinese import data are all supporting oil today, said Carsten Fritsch, oil analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.
At the moment the market is only looking at positive data, not negative numbers, he added.
China, the world s second-largest energy consumer, imported over 20 million tons of crude for the first time ever in December, up almost a quarter from November, according to Customs data published on Sunday.
Asian equities rose to a 17-month high on Monday as a strong rebound in China s exports raised optimism about the region s economic outlook, while the dollar fell 0.53 percent against a basket of currencies.
A weaker US currency makes commodities priced against the dollar, like oil, cheaper for those holding other currencies.
Tensions in Nigeria s main oil producing region have removed some supplies from the market, supporting prices, and traders will be watching carefully for further developments.
Chevron said on Saturday it had been forced to shut down 20,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil production in Nigeria, a day after security sources said gunmen had attacked a pipeline operated by the US firm.
Saudi Arabia, the world s top oil exporter, will keep crude supply to major Asian and European buyers largely steady in February, as the kingdom sticks to OPEC supply cuts, industry sources said on Monday. -Additional reporting by Fayen Wong.