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Oil prices rebound in Asia on bargain hunting

SINGAPORE -- Oil prices rebounded in Asia Friday on bargain hunting following sharp falls stoked by a slew of downbeat global economic data and easing concerns about the Ukraine crisis, analysts said.

U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for September delivery rose three cents to US$95.61 while Brent crude for October was up 54 cents to US$102.61 on its first day of trading.

WTI sank US$2.01 in New York trade Thursday while the Brent contract for September delivery fell US$2.27 to expire at US$102.01, its lowest closing level since late June 2013.

The sharp falls in oil prices on Thursday coincided with the release of data showing growth in the 18-country eurozone area stalled in the second quarter.

Germany, Europe's largest economy, shrank by 0.2 percent, and France, the second-largest, had zero growth for the second consecutive quarter.

Prices were also under pressure after the release of a string of disappointing Chinese data on Wednesday.

In a speech on Thursday, Putin said Russia would not “fence itself off from the outside world” despite a plunge in East-West relations over the pro-Kremlin insurgency in Ukraine.

Russia is the world's second-largest oil producer.

There are fears that tough Western sanctions against Russia for its seizure of Crimea in March and support for separatists in east Ukraine could affect its gas exports to Europe.

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