Singapore: World oil prices continued higher in Asian trade Wednesday, as traders bet on further crude inventory falls in the US, the world’s biggest energy consumer.
Prices rose but remained well off historic highs reached last week when they touched $100 a barrel for the first time.
In early morning trade, New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February, gained 21 cents to $96.54 a barrel.
The contract had jumped $1.24 to settle at $96.33 a barrel in New York Tuesday.
London’s Brent North Sea crude for February rallied $1.15 to close at $95.54 Tuesday.
The US Department of Energy was due later Wednesday to publish its weekly snapshot of American energy stockpiles for the week ended 4 January.
Analysts’ consensus forecast was for crude reserves to fall by 1.25 million barrels to mark the eighth consecutive week of declines.
Oil prices dropped sharply on Monday despite the Pentagon reporting a weekend encounter between the US Navy and Iranian vessels.
Traders said prices also declined as some speculators engaged in a bout of profit-taking amid lingering fears that slower US economic growth could dent global energy demand.
Prices had briefly pushed higher after the Pentagon said three US warships had been harassed on Sunday by five Iranian speedboats in the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial gateway for global energy supplies.