Oil prices mixed in Asia after Europe, US data

Oil prices were mixed in volatile Asian trade Friday as data showing the eurozone's recession deepened in the final three months of last year offset buoyant US employment figures.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in March gained two cents to $97.33 a barrel in the afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for April delivery shed 12 cents to $117.88.

US claims for unemployment insurance, which indicates the pace of layoffs, fell to 341,000 in the week to February 9, compared with 368,000 in the previous week.

However, the eurozone contracted a worse-than-forecast 0.6 percent in the October-December quarter, data showed, while anaemic growth was also tipped for this year and next.

Adding to investors' concerns was the fact that the region's most powerful and important economy, Germany, also shrank in the same period.

"Fourth quarter GDP growth was considerably worse than expected," DBS Bank said in a market commentary.

"Besides being the worst of the past five quarters, the main news is that Europe's core is now unquestionably mired in what used to be a periphery problem," it said.