Oil lower ahead of US energy reserves data

Singapore, Jan 20 (AFP) Oil was lower in Asian tradetoday as investors awaited the release of a widely watched USgovernment energy inventory report, analysts said.

New York''s main contract, light sweet crude forFebruary delivery, dropped 15 cents to USD 90.71 a barrel andBrent North Sea crude for March delivery was off 15 cents toUSD 98.01.

Analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires expect US crudestocks to have decreased by 900,000 barrels last week whilegasoline reserves are seen to surge by 2.3 million barrels.

The report by the US Department of Energy is usuallyreleased on Wednesday but was delayed by a day because of theMartin Luther King holiday on Monday.

A bleak snapshot of the US housing market appeared todampen investor sentiment.

"The question for (traders) is how will economic datascroll out in a USD 90-plus crude oil environment?" said MikeFitzpatrick, of the Kilduff Report.

Data released yesterday by the Commerce Departmentshowed new housing starts across the United States stood at ameasly 587,000 in 2010, up slightly from the year before, butstill at the second lowest level since 1959. (AFP)

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