Brent crude oil reached toward $118 on Friday morning and set itself up for a fourth straight week of gains. The commodity has found strength in economic data from some of the top oil consuming nations whose economies have been picking up.
Brent traded at $117.76 at 10:45 GMT on Friday morning after Chinese data showed that exports grew by 25 percent and shattered analysts' 17 percent prediction. The nation's imports also produced impressive figures, increasing by 29 percent. China's better than expected data encouraged speculation that the global economy is on the mend.
As the Chinese New Year approached, production climbed in the nation's refineries and caused oil imports to reach 5.92 million barrels per day, a 7.4 percent increase from last year's figures.
Geopolitical tension in the Middle East also lent support to Brent prices on Friday after Iranian leaders rejected a US offer for bilateral talks. Reuters reported that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made scathing statements that highlighted the tension between the US and Iran.
Iran's disputed nuclear program has been a source conflict between the two as the US worked to cut funding to the program. Heavy sanctions and the threat of violence have kept Brent prices elevated as a resolution looks to be far off in the future.
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Street riots in Tunisia over the assassination of an opposition leader have caused violence and instability, and caused investors to worry about crude supply as well. The country lies between Algeria and Libya, two major oil producers, so many are concerned about the conflict spilling over Tunisia's borders.
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