Benchmark crude for May delivery rose 95 cents to $53.46 a barrel by midday in Singapore in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
In London, Brent prices rose 65 cents to $54.12 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.
Traders are obviously going to be watching corporate earnings announcements for signs the recession may have bottomed in the first quarter and for company guidance about coming quarters.
Still, some traders are skeptical whether oil demand that's reeling from a global recession can justify much higher crude prices.
Concerns that growth could remain weak for years — as companies and individuals shed debt and credit remains tight — will likely dampen oil prices this year, some of them believe.