Oil hovers below $77 in Asia as global stock markets bolster optimism

SINGAPORE (AP) — Oil prices hovered below $77 a barrel Monday in Asia, boosted by a rally in global stock markets.

Benchmark crude for November delivery was up 6 cents to $76.55 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.31 to settle at $76.49 on Friday.

A surprise jump in U.S. durable goods orders and corporate spending drove Wall Street higher on Friday and carried over to Asian trading on Monday. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.9 percent Friday and all major Asian stock indexes advanced, led by a 1.4 percent increase in Japan.

Oil traders often look to stock markets as a barometer of overall investor sentiment.

Investors will be closely watching the latest indicators on U.S. consumer confidence Tuesday and second quarter gross domestic product Thursday, figures "which could make or break the equities rally," energy consultancy The Schork Report said.

In other Nymex trading in October contracts, heating oil fell 0.23 cent to $2.128 a gallon and gasoline dropped 0.23 cent to $1.945 a gallon. Natural gas plunged 11.1 cents to 3.770 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent crude fell 13 cents to $78.74 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.