Oil rose above $44 a barrel yesterday, after sinking four per cent in the previous session, gaining support from a weaker dollar and a meeting of Opec later this month.
The market was also supported by China's optimism that its domestic economy was recovering and official promises of more swift stimulus action when required. China is the world's second-largest oil consumer.
US crude was up 98 cents at $44.57 a barrel by 1205 GMT after rising as high as $44.76, while London Brent crude advanced 56 cents to $44.20 a barrel.
Brent has lost its rare premium to US crude because of a decline in US inventories. High US stocks, particularly at the Cushing oil hub, had been keeping the American marker at a discount to Brent.
Markets will be watching for the February US non-farm payrolls data due later in the session, which will probably show unemployment surging to a 25-year high in the world's top oil consumer.
"Today, traders will turn their attention to the non-farm payroll report which in case of a negative surprise may pose an obstacle to further gains," said Marius Paun, commodities analyst at ODL Securities.
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