NEW YORK, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- Oil prices climbed on Monday ahead of a closely-watched monetary policy meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.
It was widely expected that the Fed may decide to start cutting its stimulus program at this meeting. Many economists believe that a string of upbeat economic data and easing fiscal restraints could prompt top Fed officials to moderate the pace of asset purchases soon.
On the economic front, U.S. industrial production jumped 1.1 percent in November after a modest 0.1-percent increase in October, marking the biggest gain in a year, said the Fed in a report released on Monday.
Meanwhile, manufacturing conditions in December were flat for New York manufacturers, according to a survey released on Monday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The survey showed manufacturing activity in the region rose 3.19 points to 0.98 in December from a negative reading in November.
Moreover, U.S. nonfarm business sector labor productivity increased at a 3.0-percent annual rate during the third quarter, said the Labor Department.
Oil prices were also buoyed up by tensions in Libya, a major crude producer.
According to media reports, Libyan rebels refused to hand over control of three oil export ports to the government. These terminals, previously expected to open last weekend, remained shut, reducing oil supplies from the country.
Light, sweet crude for January delivery gained 88 cents to settle at 97.48 U.S. dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude for January delivery moved up 1.64 dollars to close at 110.47 dollars a barrel.