Oil prices rise on bargain hunting

Oil prices rose in choppy end-of-contract trading Monday, as bargain-hunters moved in following last week's plunge that prompted speculation about a possible cut to OPEC output.

In New York, WTI light sweet crude for delivery in May, added 75 cents from Friday to $88.76 a barrel, on the final day of the contract.

In London, Brent North Sea crude for June delivery gained 74 cents to $100.39 a barrel.

The rebound remained limited, as last week's losses were rooted in downward revisions of demand growth prospects.

"Weak US demand for products and rising US refinery runs point to easier product supplies, amid surplus crude oil stocks," said Timothy Evans of Citi Futures.

But he said parts of the market appeared to be oversold, although there remains "some residual risk of prices overshooting on the downside."

"Crude oil prices started the week on the positive side, following a strong rebound in the global equity markets that spread optimism and increased risk appetite," said Myrto Sokou, senior research analyst at Sucden brokers.

Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at traders CMC Markets, told AFP that "a bit of bargain hunting... is keeping prices up."

"Dealers are waiting for flash PMI (purchasing managers index) figures from China" due on Tuesday, he added.

Crude prices slid last week in part on weak Chinese growth data, with Brent falling to a nine-month low before recovering on market speculation that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) could move to cut output.