Oil mixed in Asian trade

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IOL pic aug19 oil barrels colourful . .

Tokyo - Oil prices were mixed in Asia on Wednesday as investors await the release of US Federal Reserve minutes from its July meeting, while keeping an eye on the latest stockpiles data.

The US benchmark, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for September delivery, rose 34 cents to $94.82 on its last day of trading. It tumbled $1.93 in New York on Tuesday as speculative traders sold off ahead of its expiration date.

Brent crude for October eased three cents to $101.53.

Desmond Chua, market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore, said dealers are squaring positions before they scrutinise the minutes of a two-day Fed meeting that ended on July 30.

Investors will be looking at whether the minutes “reveal anything insightful pertaining to tightening monetary policy”, Chua said.

Bank policymakers have said the Fed will hold its near-zero interest rate policy until the US economy strengthens but may raise rates if the jobs market kept improving.

Dealers are also awaiting the latest official US stockpiles report later Wednesday from the Department of Energy, with expectations for a decline.

Crude oil stocks are projected to have fallen by 900 000 barrels on average in the week to August 15, according to analysts surveyed by the Wall Street Journal.

Gasoline stockpiles are expected to have fallen by 1.3 million barrels, while stocks of distillates, which include heating oil and diesel, are expected to have dropped by 700 000 barrels.

A decline in US stockpiles typically indicates strong demand in the world's top crude consumer, supporting global prices.

Markets are continuing to track conflicts in crude producers Libya and Iraq, as well as in Ukraine, a key conduit for Russian gas exports to Europe, analysts said. - AFP

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