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Oil prices mixed in Asian trade

World oil prices were mixed in Asian trade amid concerns over weak energy demand from countries hit by the global economic downturn.

Written by Agencies | Singapore |
January 16, 2009 11:45:53 am

World oil prices were mixed in Asian trade on Friday amid concerns over weak energy demand from countries hit by the global economic downturn,analysts said. New York’s main contract,light sweet crude for February delivery,gained 15 cents to USD 35.55 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent North Sea crude for March delivery was down five cents to USD 47.63. The February contract expired yesterday. Lower global demand for crude continued to cast a pall over the market,overshadowing geopolitical issues such as the fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East,analysts said.

“The depressed world economy is expected to have a large impact on oil demand this year,” especially in industrialised countries,the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said in a monthly report.

The cartel forecast a bigger-than-expected 0.2 per cent drop in global oil demand this year. In 2008,global oil demand was estimated to have contracted by 100,000 barrels per day (bpd),the first decline in over two decades,it said.

Tony Nunan,a manager for energy risk at Mitsubishi Corp in Tokyo,said New York oil prices could fall further after the February contract expires next week.

Crude prices had plummeted to an intra-day low of USD 32.40 a barrel on December 18 last year,its lowest level since July 2004.

Since September,OPEC,which supplies 40 per cent of the world’s crude,has cut output by a total of 4.2 million bpd in an effort to shore up falling prices.

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