Oil prices gain marginally in Asian trade

Oil prices gain marginally in Asian trade

Singapore: World oil prices gained marginally today as the outlook for the US economy continued to weigh on the market, dealers said.

In morning trade, New York’s main oil futures contract, light sweet crude for January delivery, was 28 cents higher at $90.91 a barrel after closing down 64 cents at $90.63 in New York yesterday.

“It’s hardly moved at all this morning," said David Moore, a commodities strategist at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Sydney.

Brent North Sea crude for February delivery was 29 cents higher at $91.58 a barrel. The contract settled 40 cents lower at $91.29 per barrel in London yesterday.

Earlier yesterday, prices had risen after a weekend snowstorm in the northeastern United States, the world’s biggest heating oil market. Moore said prices subsequently eased, perhaps partly because of forecasts for milder weather over the next two weeks.

But he said concerns over the US economy, the world’s largest, were “certainly still a factor" hanging over commodities markets.

The independent London-based Centre for Global Energy Studies yesterday said there was unlikely to be much seasonal cheer for oil consumers.

“Although oil production at last appears to be rising, oil prices are expected to remain high over the winter and into 2008, despite fears about the true state of the US economy," the centre said in its latest monthly report.

“This year Opec deliberately kept the world short of oil in order to avoid a repeat of last year’s autumn price fall, a policy that has been extremely effective from the organisation’s point of view," it added.