| GEO Business|
| Oil prices up in Asian trade|
| Updated at: 0805 PST, Monday, March 23, 2009|
SINGAPORE: Oil prices rose in Asian trade Monday, driven by optimism in the financial markets ahead of an expected US government announcement of a plan to sell toxic assets, analysts said.
New York's main futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery in May, was up 30 cents to 52.37 dollars a barrel. The Nymex contract for April delivery expired on Friday.
Brent North Sea crude for May delivery gained 45 cents to 51.67 dollars.
"Right now, the crude oil market is primarily driven by the financial markets," said Victor Shum, an analyst with energy consultancy Purvin and Gertz in Singapore. "What we are seeing in the crude oil market is a financial rally."
The US government is expected to to unveil the plan as early as Monday to sell toxic assets weighing down the financial system.
US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner would detail the "Public Private Investment Programme" to entice hedge funds and other private investors into investing in bad assets choking banks' balance sheets, US officials said.