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Oil prices edge up in Asian trade

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for February, which dived $2.23 Thursday, was up 22 cents at $46.47.

Brent North Sea crude for March added 12 cents to $48.39. The February contract for Brent fell $1.02 Thursday, its last day of trading.

Despite Friday’s small gains, the market remains depressed by a supply glut and weak demand, while analysts warned of more volatility to come.

The 12-nation OPEC cartel, which produces about one third of global supplies, said in a monthly report Thursday that its production rose to 30.2 million barrels a day in December, above its 30 million limit.

It also projected that demand for its oil would fall to 28.8 million barrels per day this year from 29.1 million in 2014.

“The yo-yo effect of the crude oil prices can be attributed to the uncertainty in the market,” said Shailaja Nair, associate editorial director at energy information provider Platts, pointing to an “unstable dollar” and an “irregular equity market”.

“OPEC has just forecasted a drop in demand for its oil this year and this could mean that the price rally we saw this week is unlikely to last,” she said.

Prices have lost more than half their value since sitting above $100 in June, with weak demand and a strong dollar exacerbated by OPEC’s decision in November to maintain output levels despite a global glut. (AFP)



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