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Oil prices rebound in Asian trade

SINGAPORE: Oil rebounded in Asia Wednesday as traders bought the commodity at cheaper prices following a slide to near six-year lows, analysts said.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for March delivery was up 44 cents at $46.91 in afternoon trade. The February contract expired on Tuesday at $46.39, down $2.30 from the day before and not far from its lowest level since March 2009.

Brent North Sea crude for March, the international benchmark, added 44 cents to $48.42.

Analysts, however, do not expect the upturn to last, as weakening global demand and a supply glut show no signs of abating.

“The slight increase is likely due to profit-taking trade as a result of yesterday’s slide in prices,” said Tetsu Emori, commodity fund manager with Astmax Investments in Tokyo.

“Oil prices will likely remain at a low level this week once this period of bargain hunting is over,” he told AFP.

Analysts said demand will likely take a further hit after the International Monetary Fund sharply cut its forecast for global economic growth this year, citing weaker momentum in nearly all leading economies but the United States.

The IMF said in a report released Tuesday that poorer prospects in China, Russia, the euro area and Japan would hold world growth to just 3.5 percent this year and 3.7 percent in 2016.

Singapore’s United Overseas Bank said “there remains significant pessimism… especially after (the) IMF downgraded its global economic outlook for 2015 and 2016, adding to woes that global oil demand will continue to fall short of supply”.

Oil prices have lost more than half their value from above $100 in June last year. (AFP)

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