World oil prices bounce on bargain hunting

Oil prices rallied today on bargain hunting after a recent slump sparked by the end of a Norwegian oil workers' strike and before the latest US energy inventories data.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in August advanced $1.20 to $99.17 a barrel in London deals. New York's main contract, light sweet crude for August, jumped $1.33 to $85.24.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) will publish its weekly report on American crude stockpiles for the week ending July 6 later today.

Prices tumbled by over $2 after Norway halted an oil workers' strike that threatened production, while news of weak Chinese crude imports raised demand concerns.

Norwegian production was being increased to make up for the supply disruption, with state-owned giant Statoil, the company most affected by the strike, saying it expected normal output levels by the end of the week.

Analysts said that weak demand from the US and China - the world's largest oil and gas consumers respectively - would put downside pressure on prices.

The US was hit by disappointing jobs numbers Friday in yet another blow to its efforts to kickstart the economy while data yesterday showed China crude imports plunging to their lowest levels since December.