Oil mixed in Asian trade

SINGAPORE, July 2, 2009 (AFP) - Oil prices were mixed in Asian trade Thursday, but remained below 70 dollars on US energy demand concerns, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for August delivery was seven cents lower at 69.24 dollars.

Brent North Sea crude for August delivery rose 11 cents to 68.90 dollars a barrel.

Crude fell at the close of US trading Wednesday as investors focused on government data that showed petrol stocks rising by 2.3 million barrels in the week ending June 26.

Distillates, which include diesel and heating fuel, increased by 2.9 million barrels in the same period, the data released by the Department of Energy showed Wednesday.

Gasoline demand traditionally increases at this time of the year when Americans take to the roads for their summer holidays but the recession that began late last year is still taking a toll on consumers, analysts said.

They added that the direction of crude prices will continue to be heavily influenced by the state of the global economy, especially that of the United States, the world's biggest energy user.

Dariusz Kowalczyk, chief investment strategist with SJS Markets trading house, said recent data showed the global economy was on the mend but cautioned that "concerns remained over the pace of the coming recovery."

"As a result of the markets seeing the glass half full, risk appetite increased," Kowalczyk said.

Analysts were waiting for the results of a meeting later Thursday of European Central Bank (ECB) policymakers although most said they expected them to leave interest rates at an all-time low of 1.0 percent.

"There is little chance of fresh measures to boost liquidity and it is unlikely that the ECB delivers another rate cut," analysts from Singapore's DBS Bank said.

"Therefore, the ECB’s assessment on the economy is also unlikely to be changed materially."

Source: AFP

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