Oil up in Asia amid Egypt concerns

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Singapore, Feb 2 (AFP) Oil rose in Asian trade today,with Brent crude within a whisker of breaching USD 102 abarrel again as the unrest in Egypt continued to weigh downinvestor mood, analysts said.

New York''s main contract, light sweet crude for Marchdelivery gained two cents to USD 90.79 and Brent North Seacrude, also for delivery in March, advanced 25 cents to USD101.99.

The turmoil in Egypt fuelled Brent crude price to anintraday high of USD 102.08 yesterday, its highest level sincelate September 2008 after the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy sentfinancial markets into a tailspin.

Egypt is not a major crude producer but the country ishome to the crucial Suez Canal, which carries about 2.4million barrels of oil a day -- roughly equivalent to thedaily output of Iraq or Brazil.

"Concern over the situation deteriorating in Egypt iseasing... However, (the situation in Egypt) will still be abackground factor affecting oil prices at the moment," said YuYingxi, a commodities analyst for Barclays Capital inSingapore.

More than one million people took part inanti-government demonstrations across Egypt yesterday, theeighth day of protests aimed at ousting President HosniMubarak.

Investors are concerned that similar demonstrations --which have also touched Tunisia, Yemen and Jordan -- couldspread elsewhere in the oil-rich region.

"After the unrest in Tunisia and Egypt, there is stilla high risk of the troubles spreading to neighboringcountries, including major North African oil producers Libyaand Algeria," said Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch.

"Although the turmoil has not affected oil shipmentsso far, the geopolitical ''risk premium'' is more likely toincrease further." (AFP)

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