Oil prices under pressure

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Tokyo - Oil prices fell further in Asia on Friday following a sell-off on Wall Street and concerns about unplanned refinery shutdowns in the US Midwest, analysts said.

The US benchmark, West Texas (WTI) Intermediate for September delivery, eased 19 cents to $97.98 while Brent crude for September was down 13 cents to $105.89 in mid-morning trade.

WTI fell $2.10 in New York trade and Brent declined 49 cents in London on Thursday.

“Oil prices are under pressure at the moment after heavy selling on Wall Street,” Michael McCarthy, market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, told AFP.

The equities sell-off has been attributed to a range of factors, including weak European inflation data, the Argentine default and softer US corporate earnings.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 1.88 percent to 16,563.30, erasing all its gains since the end of 2013.

Analysts said oil prices were also pressured by reports that a number of oil refineries in the US midwest were experiencing outages.

The concern is that crude inventories will build at the closely-watched Cushing, Oklahoma oil-trading hub where WTI is priced, with the supply glut dampening prices.

The outages come ahead of planned maintenance in September at many refineries as the summer travel season ends.

The outages are seen to have a greater impact on WTI prices. Brent crude is more leveraged to the international oil market.

French bank Credit Agricole said investors are also awaiting the release of the July US labour market report for clues about the state of the world's biggest economy. - AFP

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