Tokyo - Oil prices fell in Asian trade on Wednesday ahead of the weekly US stockpiles report that will give an indication of demand in the world's biggest economy.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for April delivery, dipped 47 cents to $99.56 in mid-morning trade, and Brent North Sea crude for April eased 20 cents to $108.35.

The US Department of Energy will release its report later in the day and analysts expected inventories to have risen two million barrels in the week ending March 7 as the severe winter weather draws to an end, leading to weaker demand for heating oil.

Kelly Teoh, managing director at I.R. Resources, said that with the Ukrainian crisis and the winter weather in the US easing, investors would focus on economic data from the United States and China.

“In the short term, a lot of it has to do with (uncertainty over) the US economy... and China showing a slowdown,” Teoh told AFP.

Beijing said on Saturday it had seen an unexpected trade deficit of $22.98 billion in February as exports dived, fuelling fears about growth in the Asian economic giant.

Investors are also keeping an eye on political developments in oil-producer Libya after the country's parliament ousted Prime Minister Ali Zeidan.

The vote of no-confidence in parliament came after a North Korean tanker laden with oil from a rebel-held terminal in eastern Libya broke through a naval blockade and escaped to sea despite the government's threats to block it by force if necessary. - AFP