09/27/2011 01:33 EDT | Updated 11/26/2011 05:12 EST

Oil rises above US$81 a barrel in Asia as hopes grow for progress in stemming Europe debt crisis

BANGKOK - Oil rose above US$81 a barrel Tuesday in Asia, following stock markets higher amid hopes that Europe was finally girding for a major program to prevent debt-strapped Greece from going bankrupt.

Benchmark oil for November delivery was up $1.41 to $81.65 a barrel at midafternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 39 cents to finish at $80.24 per barrel in New York on Monday.

In London, Brent crude for November delivery rose $1.16 at $105.10 on the ICE Futures exchange.

Energy prices followed gains in stock markets on optimism that European finance ministers might soon take action to stem the region's sovereign debt crisis.

For weeks, investors have been worried that Europe's problems could lead to another recession, which would cut demand for oil and gasoline. Demand for gasoline in the U.S. is already below year-ago levels.

Analysts were also looking to consumer confidence data expected later Tuesday out of the U.S. for clues on the future strength of demand for fuel. Oil prices have slumped since spring as concern has grown about the global economy, but signs of improving consumer sentiment could boost crude.

"As for today all eyes will likely be on September's consumer confidence index" which is expected to rise to 46.0 from 44.5 in August, energy trader and consultant The Schork Group said in a report.

In other energy trading, heating oil fell rose 3 cents to $2.83 per gallon, gasoline futures fell 4 cents to $2.52 per gallon and natural gas rose 2 cents to $3.80 per 1,000 cubic feet.