Oil prices higher in Asia

Oil prices rose in Asian trade on Wednesday, supported by healthy economic indicators in the world's major economies, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in March was up two cents to $96.68 a barrel in morning trade and Brent North Sea crude for March delivery climbed 18 cents to $116.70.

A slowdown in contraction of eurozone business activity soothed fears about political uncertainty in Italy and Spain -- which had sent markets plunging in the US and Europe Monday -- while upbeat US services sector data lifted US oil futures.

Malaysian bank CIMB said in a research note the rebound in the US services sector in January signalled "growth in 90 percent of the US economy and stronger demand for crude".

A rebound in global stock markets also helped lift oil prices, analysts said.

"European markets steadied the ship last night to reinforce that the start-of-week wobble could be just a blip rather than a shift back to the dark days of eurozone panic attacks," said Jason Hughes, head of premium client management at IG Markets Singapore.

Capital Economics research house pointed to a "broad-based" recovery in the manufacturing sector worldwide, which is supportive of energy demand.

The forward-looking purchasing managers' indices for Latin America and emerging Asia "have risen rapidly since mid-2012 and the latest figures point to a turnaround in emerging Europe too", it said.