Oil prices in Asia moved up after declining in the previous session. Light, sweet crude for February delivery inched up to US$96.11 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by midday in Singapore. On Friday, the contract dipped to settle at US$96 a barrel, after a housing report that showed weak figures on new home sales ignited fresh concerns about the U.S. economy, raising fears about a possible economic slowdown in the world's largest consumer of oil products.
Supply disruptions from the Middle East, however, kept oil prices high, on worries that oil shipments from the region will be reduced or halted. Turkish jets hit suspected Kurdish rebel shelters in northern Iraq for a third time on Dec. 26. Turkey has also launched a cross border raid and fired artillery at Kurdish rebel positions since the first airstrike on Dec. 16. The rebels have vowed to take the group's battle for autonomy deep inside Turkey if the cross-border airstrikes do not stop.