Oil prices rose more than 3 percent Tuesday as tension between Iran and the United States and Europe kept fears of potential supply disruptions in focus, while strong Chinese and US data fueled optimism about the global economy at the start of 2012 trading.
China's big manufacturers narrowly avoided a contraction in December, but soothed fears of a slowdown. The official purchasing managers' index (PMI) complied for the National Bureau of Statistics rose to 50.3 in December from 49 in November.
Oil prices added to gains and Wall Street stocks jumped 2 percent on data showing US construction spending surged to a near 1-1/2 year peak in November and manufacturing activity grew at its fastest pace in six months in December, with new orders up also.
The euro rallied sharply while the dollar fell as the stronger-than-expected economic data whetted appetite for risk.
Brent February crude rose $3.70 to $111.08 barrel by 12:40 p.m. EST (1740 GMT), having reached $111.58, highest intraday price since Dec. 5.
US February crude rose $3.65 to $102.48 a barrel, having reached $102.88, highest since reaching $103.37 intraday on Nov. 17.
Brent posted a 13 percent rise in 2011, while US crude was rose 8 percent for the year.
Crude futures trading volumes were stronger after a couple of weeks of weak holiday-season volumes. During the noon hour in New York, Brent volume was nearly 2 percent above its 30-day average, with U.S. only 3 percent under its 30-day average.
US heating oil rose sharply, keeping pace with crude on a percentage basis, and US gasoline futures also moved up as oil analysts and brokers eyed efforts by European refiner Petroplus to keep refineries open after the company was hit by a credit freeze.
A pan-European group of unions has called on governments in Britain, France, Belgium and Switzerland to step in and support employment at Petroplus refineries threatened with closure.
Workers at the Petroplus Petit Couronne refinery in France will meet union representatives from nearby refineries on Wednesday to decide whether to call for strike action after temporary shutdowns announced for three plants.
Internal sectarian tensions in OPEC-member Iraq since the mid-December departure of US troops has added to fears about disrupted oil supply, though Iraq's crude oil exports climbed to 2.145 million barrels per day in December, from 2.135 million bpd in November.
Meanwhile, Wall Street stocks kicked off 2012 with a sharp rally on Tuesday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 223.27 points, or 1.83 percent, at 12,440.83. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 23.49 points, or 1.87 percent, at 1,281.09. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 50.26 points, or 1.93 percent, at 2,655.41.
Financial stocks were among the market leaders as risk appetite returned. Both the S&P financial sector and material stocks rose nearly 3 percent. Utility names , considered a defensive play, fell 1.4 percent as the day's weakest sector.
The Philadelphia semiconductor index rose 1.5 percent while the S&P information technology sector was up 1.8 percent.
Barclays Capital downgraded Intel Corp and other semiconductor stocks, predicting a "volatile" year for the group as an inventory correction extends into the first quarter.
Dow component 3M Co., maker of Post-it Notes and Scotch tape, is buying Avery Dennison Corp.'s office and consumer products unit. Avery Dennison shares rose 2.3 percent $29.34, while 3M added 2.4 percent to $83.67.
Shares of McDonald's Corp., the Dow's biggest gainer in 2011, fell nearly 1 percent to $99.42 on Tuesday.
Four-fifths of companies trading on the New York Stock Exchange rose, while 75 percent of Nasdaq-listed shares were in positive territory. Volume topped 3 billion shares.
Britain's FTSE 100 opened after a three-day holiday, gaining 1 percent at 5,625.17. Germany's DAX rose 0.8 percent to 6,125.05 while France's CAC-40 fell 0.7 percent to 3,199.95.
Asian stocks rose as post-holiday trade began to acquire momentum. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index, on its first trading session of 2012, jumped 2.4 percent to close at 18,877.41. South Korea's Kospi index rose 2.7 percent to 1,875.41 and Australia's S&P ASX 200 gained 1.1 percent at 4,101.20. Benchmarks in India, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia also rose.
Benchmarks in Japan, mainland China and Thailand remained closed for the extended New Year's holiday.
Oil-related stocks posted solid gains as the price of crude hovered above $100 per barrel. Hong Kong-listed PetroChina Co., China's largest oil and gas producer, jumped 4.5 percent. China Petroleum & Chemical Co., Asia's biggest oil refiner, gained 5.5 percent.
Other commodity shares headed upward. Australia's Fortescue Metals Group added 3.3 percent. Newcrest Mining rose 3.7 percent and BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining company, rose 1.1 percent. Rival Rio Tinto added 1.8 percent.
Korean industrial shares posted solid gains. Hyundai Heavy Industries, the country's leading shipbuilder, jumped 5.8 percent. Steel giant POSCO rose 3.1 percent. Hyundai Motor soared 4.2 percent.
In currencies, the euro rose to $1.2994 from $1.2946 late Friday in New York. The dollar fell to 76.80 yen from 77.78 yen.