| GEO Business|
| Oil extends gains, climbs above 86 dollars|
| Updated at: 0939 PST, Thursday, April 15, 2010|
SINGAPORE: Oil prices extended gains in Asian trade Thursday, boosted by improving demand and strong company earnings results in the United States, the world's biggest energy user, analysts said.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in May rose 25 cents to 86.09 dollars a barrel.
Brent North Sea crude for May was up 30 cents to 86.45 dollars.
A strengthening economic recovery in the United States and signs that oil demand was picking up there helped spur investor interest in the oil and other markets.
"The economic indices and (earnings) results from American companies are very good so a lot of money is coming into oil and the stock markets," said Ken Hasegawa, an energy desk manager with brokerage firm Newedge in Japan.
US firm Intel, which is the world's biggest computer chip maker, said Tuesday that its first quarter net profit rose nearly four-fold to 2.4 billion dollars.
The company also said it plans to hire more than 1,000 employees this year, highlighting its optimism for the chip market.
American financial giant JP Morgan Chase on Wednesday also reported a 55 percent jump in earnings to 3.3 billion dollars in the first quarter.
Hasegawa said robust company earnings results led to buoyant investor sentiment, noting that the New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex), the world's largest commodity futures trading platform, posted record trading volumes on Tuesday.
New York crude could be heading for the "upper side towards 90 dollars", Hasegawa said from Tokyo.
Oil prices were also supported by the US Department of Energy's (DoE) weekly stockpiles report which showed a surprise drop in crude supplies, indicating stronger demand.
The DOE said crude inventories had dropped by 2.2 million barrels last week, confounding analysts' forecast for an increase of 1.1 million barrels.