Oil lingers near $91 a barrel in Asia

Oil lingers near $91 a barrel in Asia

Bangkok: Oil futures hovered near $91 a barrel Tuesday in Asia, largely shrugging off a higher Opec demand forecast as trading in the February contract dwindled ahead of its expiration.

Benchmark crude for February delivery was down 44 cents at $91.10 a barrel at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Floor trading was closed in New York on Monday due to the Martin Luther King holiday. The contract, which last settled in New York on Friday at $90.54, expires in a day and trading is already shifting to the March contract.

Oil prices got some support from the monthly report from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries which raised slightly the forecast for demand for its crude.

The demand for Opec crude is expected to average 29.4 million barrels a day in 2011, an increase of 0.4 million barrels a day over 2010 and an increase of 0.2 million barrels a day over the previous assessment, the Vienna-based group said.

In other Nymex trading in February contracts, heating oil fell 1.6 cents to $2.63 a gallon and gasoline dropped 0.6 cent to $2.489 a gallon. Natural gas futures rose 4.5 cents to $4.525 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent crude was up 18 cents to $97.61 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.