Thursday, December 27, 2007

Oil prices higher in Asian trade

SINGAPORE: Oil prices were higher in Asian trade on Wednesday on expectations of strong heating fuel demand as cold weather swept through the US midwest, dealers said.

In morning trade, New York's main contract, light sweet crude for February delivery, rose 31 cents to 94.44 US dollars per barrel from 94.13 dollars in late US trades on Monday.

Brent North Sea crude for February delivery gained 59 cents to 93.29 dollars per barrel.

Oil markets were closed on Tuesday for Christmas.

"What you are seeing is reasonably cold weather in the US which means we will see demand for heating oil,"

said Jason Feer, Asia-Pacific general manager for energy market analysts Argus Media in Singapore.

"The market sort of tends to view the cold weather as a bullish factor,"

he said.

A weekend storm reportedly left 11 people dead in car crashes across the central United States and grounded flights for Christmas holiday travellers.

New storm warnings were issued for the eastern Great Lakes region in both the United States and Canada.

The US is the world's biggest energy user and recently-released data suggest heating fuel demand is robust despite overall concerns about the state of the economy.

Data from the US Department of Energy's (DoE's) weekly report released last week showed crude stocks had fallen below their five-year average for the first time in more than three years.