• Oil prices mixed in cautious Asian trade

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    SINGAPORE: Oil prices were mixed in Asia on Thursday, with traders treading carefully ahead of Chinese trade and industrial production data as the regional powerhouse shows signs of slowing down, analysts said.

    New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) light sweet crude for delivery in July added two cents to $93.76 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for July delivery dropped 18 cents to $102.86 in mid-morning trade.

    “Dealers are cautious ahead of the numbers due later in the week,” Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, told AFP. He said “oil futures will be weighed if there is a slowing trend” in China’s trade data for May, which will be released on Friday.

    The National Bureau of Statistics in Beijing will unveil figures for industrial production, retail sales and inflation on Saturday.

    Developments in China are closely watched as it is the world’s second biggest economy and largest energy consumer.

    The International Monetary Fund recently cut its 2013 growth forecast for the country to 7.75 percent from an earlier projection of 8.0 percent.

    WTI prices had risen on Wednesday thanks to a sharp decline in US oil inventories, indicating stronger demand in the world’s biggest economy.

    The US Department of Energy said stockpiles in the United States plunged 6.3 million barrels in the week ended May 31, much more than analysts expected, with the average estimate pegged at a 400,000 drop.

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