SINGAPORE: Oil prices were mixed in Asian trade Friday after a steep decline in United States trade, as investors await the release of US stockpiles data while keeping an eye on a disruption in Iraqi supplies.
New York City’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for February delivery, eased two cents to $95.42 in mid-morning trade, while Brent North Sea crude for February rose 25 cents to $108.03.
WTI plunged $2.98 in New York City trade on Thursday while Brent tumbled $3.02, following news that a major Libyan field could come back on line later this week, which would soften demand.
A spokesman for the Libyan National Oil Corp. told Agence France-Presse on Thursday that the 330,000 barrel a day El Sharara field is expected to resume normal output within two or three days, once protesters who have blocked production pull out. Oil production in Libya has plunged to about 250,000 barrels a day from nearly 1.5 million in the face of demands from armed protesters for more regional autonomy and greater say over the distribution of oil revenues.
Desmond Chua, market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore, said that there was broadly “positive sentiment” over a solid US stockpiles report to be released later on Friday.
The report, usually released on Wednesday, has been postponed due to the New Year’s Day holiday.
According to analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires, the average forecast is that crude oil supplies fell 2.2 million barrels last week, a fifth consecutive dip after a 10 week run of rises.