LONDON  - Oil prices edged lower in early European trade on Monday as investors locked in gains from solid increases last week, traders said.

In electronic exchanges on the New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex), light sweet crude for delivery in May eased 57 cents to $96.66 a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for May eased 36 cents to $109.66 a barrel on London’s Intercontinental Exchange (ICE). “It is not surprising investors are taking a breather,” said Kelly Teoh, market strategist at IG Markets Singapore, earlier in the day.

“WTI has been trading near the highest in the past six weeks as it tracks US economic growth, and is due for some profit taking,” she told AFP in reference to the US benchmark, West Texas Intermediate crude. Oil prices have been underpinned by gains on US financial markets even though economic indicators have given a mixed picture of the world’s biggest economy.

On Thursday, both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the broader S&P 500 index hit record highs with support from a generally improving economy, solid corporate earnings and an aggressive Federal Reserve stimulus policy that shows no signs of being revised.

On Thursday a barrel of WTI had jumped by 65 US cents to $97.23 on the Nymex, while Brent had closed the week with a gain of 33 cents to $110.02 on the ICE.