Oil prices gain slightly in quiet Asian trade

Oil prices gain slightly in quiet Asian trade

Singapore: World oil prices rose slightly in quiet Asian trade Friday after the US Thanksgiving holiday.

In late morning trade, New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for January delivery, was seven cents higher at $97.36 a barrel.

The contract hit an historic intra-day high of $99.29 on Wednesday, putting it in sight of the symbolic 100-dollar level.

Brent North Sea crude for January delivery rose 15 cents to 94.78. The contract struck an all-time intra-day peak of $96.53 on Wednesday.

Jason Feer, of energy market analysts Argus Media Ltd, said that with New York floor trading closed there was “thin volume, and no real news that would’ve drawn people in."

Crude oil prices have surged by about 64% since the start of 2007, supported by supply disruptions in key producers such as Nigeria, geopolitical jitters over the Iranian nuclear crisis, and strong demand from China and India.

Oil prices were also winning support from a troubled dollar, which has struck a series of record low points against the surging euro.

A weak greenback encourages demand for dollar-priced commodities because they become more attractive to investors using stronger currencies.

Feer said another factor has been the entrance of fresh funds into the market.

“You do have a lot of people chasing returns," he said, adding that market fundamentals are also supporting prices.

“I think everybody continues to be surprised about the continuing robust demand growth that you’re seeing in some of the emerging markets and even in the US," he said.

“A lot of the indicators are you’re likely to see some fairly strong prices into next year."