Brent crude futures rose above $107 on Wednesday, gaining for a third straight day, after upbeat US data pointed to a recovery in demand growth in the world's biggest oil consumer amid fears of a disruption in supplies.
Sentiment also got a boost on signs of easing stress in Europe after Spanish borrowing costs fell sharply, prompting gold, the euro and Asian stocks to rise. Oil markets got an added lift from uncertainty surrounding supplies with tensions over Iran's nuclear programme escalating.
Brent crude rose 27 cents to $107 by 0433 GMT, after settling $3.09 higher, posting its biggest one-day percentage increase since Oct. 14. US crude gained 56 cents to $97.80 a barrel, after rising more than a $1 to $98.44 earlier.
"There are two main things that are solid indicators of a revival in the United States. One is employment and the other housing," said Tony Nunan, a risk manager at Mitsubishi Corp.
"We have got some positive numbers on housing. Added to that is the geopolitical uncertainty in the Middle East. You have Iran, you have Syria."
US housing starts and building permits jumped to a 1-1/2 year high in November as demand for rental apartments rose, suggesting the housing market was entering a tentative recovery.
Tuesday's data, which also showed gains in groundbreaking for single-family homes, was the latest sign of a quickening of an economic recovery.
US stocks rallied nearly 3 percent, and most other commodity markets rebounded overnight.
"Last night's market action may have been somewhat of a catch-up rally based on the recent good data in the last few months," said Ben Le Brun, market analyst at OptionsXpress. "Regardless, we saw the energy, materials and financial sectors all rally strongly, a good lead for our market this morning."
On the other side of the Atlantic, hopes of Europe containing its debt crisis revived as German business sentiment rose sharply in December, defying expectations for a decline.
The rise underscored the strength of Europe's largest economy in the face of a sovereign debt crisis that has hammered growth in other euro zone members.
"The US data and the latest indications from Europe seem to suggest that the E.U. crisis can be contained, and that it will not spread further," said Nunan.
Oil also got support from an industry report that showed crude stocks in the United States fell nearly double than what was expected. The industry group American Petroleum Institute said domestic stocks fell 4.6 million barrels compared with expectations of a drop of 2.3 million barrels.
A clearer picture on inventory levels will be available once the Energy Information Administration releases its numbers later in the day.
Oil investors are worried the escalating tension with Iran over the country's nuclear programme may disrupt oil supplies from the world's fifth-largest exporter.
Diplomats from the US, the European Union and other allies agreed on Tuesday to step up pressure on Iran to force it to resume talks over its nuclear programme, an Italian diplomatic source said.
In addition to Iran, markets are also worried about supplies from Iraq. Iraqi authorities issued an arrest warrant for Sunni Muslim Vice-President Tareq Al Hashemi for suspected ties to assassinations and bombings, just as the United States announced plans to withdraw troops from the country.
"Look at Iraq. Within days of the US announcement to withdraw troops, there is concern about growing differences between the various factions," Nunan said.
Meanwhile in Syria, fierce fighting continued in the northern province of Idlib, with activists saying nearly 50 people were killed there and elsewhere on Tuesday, shortly before officials arrive to prepare for an Arab League effort to end nine months of bloodshed.