Oil prices higher in Asian trade

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Singapore, Jan 19: Oil prices were higher in Asian trade today, supported by news that the International Monetary Fund was boosting its coffers to aid in crisis intervention, analysts said. Data showing a drop in US crude inventories also helped bolster prices even after the International Energy Agency (IEA) slashed its estimate for global demand growth in 2012.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in February, gained 81 cents to USD 101.40 a barrel in morning trade. Brent North Sea crude for March delivery was up 59 cents to USD 111.25.

"News that the IMF is increasing its firepower to aid the situation in crisis-hit Europe... is affecting market sentiment to push prices up," said Victor Shum, senior principal of Purvin and Gertz energy consultants in Singapore.

The IMF yesterday said it intended to raise USD 500 billion more to increase its ability to help countries in financial trouble. With several European nations veering on recession and Greece on the brink of default, the IMF said it lacks the resources to be the world's lender of last resort.

The lender said the USD 500 billion includes a recent European commitment to add about USD 200 billion to its resources. 

"Higher prices are also supported by advanced data from API showing a decline in US crude inventories," said Shum, referring to the industry group American Petroleum Institute. Advanced API figures showed that crude inventories in the world's top oil consumer had declined 4.81 million barrels to 330.1 million last week, indicating stronger demand. 

AFP

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