SINGAPORE - Oil prices fell on profit-taking in Asia on Friday after prices rose sharply in in New York on the back of upbeat US employment and housing data.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February fell 34 cents to $95.15 (S$116.43) a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for March delivery dropped 15 cents to $110.95.
"After strong economic data out of the US, we are seeing profit-taking," said Victor Shum, managing director at IHS Purvin and Gertz in Singapore. The Labor Department said Thursday that US jobless claims dropped last week to the lowest level in five years, an indication the jobs market in the world's biggest economy is slowly improving.
Also Thursday the Commerce Department said the number of new houses under construction rebounded strongly in December.
The United States is the world's biggest oil consuming nation and its consumption patterns are closely watched by the market.
Prices had also been given support by concerns over a crisis in oil-producing Algeria in which foreign governments have expressed alarm after Islamists seized a gas plant near the Libyan and took dozens of foreign hostages, Reports began to filter through Friday of a rescue operation by the Algerian military that had left several hostages dead.
Shum also said that although data from China showed gross domestic product expanded better than expected in the final three months of 2012, it was not enough to show the economy was on a solid growth path.