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Oil prices higher in Asian trade

08 November 2013, 06:55AFP

Singapore - Oil prices rose in Asian trade on Friday but faced downward pressure from easing supply concerns as well as speculation the US Federal Reserve may begin to taper its stimulus programme soon, analysts said.

New York's main contract West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for December delivery was up 38 cents at $94.58 in mid-morning trade, while Brent North Sea crude for December edged up 2c to $103.48.

The Commerce Department on Thursday said the US economy grew at an annual rate of 2.8% in the third quarter, well above the 1.9% projected by analysts. The news added to expectations the Fed will starting reeling in its $85bn a month bond-buying scheme earlier than expected.

The central bank has previously said any pullback on the scheme - credited with helping prop up global equity markets - hinges on a firm US economic recovery. Eyes are now on the release of jobs data later Friday.

"After US GDP was posted at 2.8% for Q3, investors still remained cautious ahead of the labour market data," Vanessa Tan, investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore, said in a note.

"The economic data would give further clues about the future of US monetary policy," she said.

Expectations of an upbeat labour report are low, but a surprisingly good report will likely reinforce expectations of an early stimulus taper, according to analysts.

Brent was pressured by hopes that talks between Iran and six world powers lead to the lifting of crippling crude export sanctions on the Islamic republic for its nuclear programme, which the West suspects is being used to make weapons. Tehran denies that claim.

"Talks between Iran and other world powers to put an end to a nuclear stand-off seem to be progressing well and this helped to weigh on Brent," Tan said.



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