Oil prices at 18-month high levels

Oil prices have reached the highest level for 18 months as hopes of economic recovery in the US strengthened after jobs data were found to be better than expected.

Crude oil for May delivery was at a high of $85.89 per barrel at a point in New York trading, the highest since the peak of the recession in October 2008.

US employment figures showed a rise of 162,000 jobs in March - the largest job spike in three years, which indicate that the world's largest economy could be moving out of financial crisis.

Crude oil values have increased steadily from February, when they were below $70 a barrel, as traders anticipate demand to rise, with recession easing out in the US.

Clarence Chu, a trader with Hudson Capital Energy in Singapore, said: "If the job growth can be sustained for several months, we'll definitely see crude demand pick up."

However, this means that UK motorists will face higher petrol and diesel prices amid increased wholesale fuel costs due to weaker pound and duty hikes from the Government.

Although Chancellor Alistair Darling staggered the introduction of the latest duty rise in last month's Budget, 1p a litre was added on April 1, with a further 1p rise to come in October.

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