Oil prices down in Asian trade

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SINGAPORE: Oil prices tumbled further in Asia Tuesday, with weak global demand and an oversupply dictating the trend for the commodity, analysts said.

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US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in February eased $1.26 to $47.43 in afternoon trade and Brent crude for March fell six cents to $48.78.

“We see no near-term catalysts that would change the supply/demand equation,” credit ratings firm Moody’s said in a market commentary.

It said the drop in crude prices by more than half between June last year and this month reflected an increase in US production, a slow rise in worldwide demand and oil kingpin Saudi Arabia’s decision “not to keep acting as OPEC’s — and the world’s — swing producer.”

Saudi Arabia is the major producer among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cartel, which decided in November to leave crude output unchanged, further pressuring prices.

Moody’s said it has lowered its price assumptions for Brent crude to $55 a barrel through 2015 and $65 in 2016.

It also lowered its price assumption for WTI to $52 a barrel through this year and to $62 in 2016.

Further confirming weak demand, the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday sharply cut its 2015-2016 world growth forecast of only six months ago.

The IMF said poorer prospects in China, Russia, the euro area and Japan would hold world growth to just 3.5 percent this year and 3.7 percent in 2016.

That was 0.3 percentage points lower than in its previous World Economic Outlook in October, and underscored the steady deterioration of the economic picture for many countries. AFP

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