Singapore: Oil prices were mixed in Asian trade this morning on continuing worries about the weak global economy, analysts said.
New York’s main futures contract, light sweet crude for February delivery, was down 27 cents to $40.56 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Brent North Sea crude for February delivery was 14 cents higher at $44.56 a barrel.
“Prices are under pressure due to concerns about the bleak macroeconomic outlook,” said Victor Shum, senior principal of international energy consultants Purvin and Gertz in Singapore.
Sentiment took a hit after a US jobs data report released on 8 January showed unemployment levels surged to a 16-year high of 7.2%, with 524,000 jobs lost in December, capping a loss of 2.6 million for the year 2008.
The acceleration of job losses suggested a vicious downward cycle for the world’s biggest economy, analysts said.
The US is the world’s leading energy user and analysts fear oil demand would be affected badly if the American economy remains stuck in a recession.
However, Shum added that oil prices were “unlikely to have a downward spiral” due to the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine gas spat and OPEC members’ compliance with output cuts.