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Oil prices edge up in quiet trade

Jan 08 2013 07:30 AFP

(Ed Andrieski, AP)

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Singapore - Oil prices edged up in Asia on Tuesday, but trade was subdued as dealers waited for clearer signals on the US and other major economies and a fall in equities weighed on sentiment, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February was up four cents to $93.24 a barrel in the morning while Brent North Sea crude for February delivery gained 11 cents to $111.51.

"On the whole, we are seeing quiet and flat trading in Asia," said Jason Hughes, the head of premium client management at IG Markets in Singapore.

He said traders were looking for guidance ahead of the corporate earnings season, especially for companies in the United States, the world's biggest economy and largest oil-consuming nation.

Other analysts said there were also lingering concerns about the looming debates in the deeply divided US Congress over raising the country's debt ceiling and spending cuts.

Oil prices surged last week when feuding Republican and Democrat lawmakers clinched a deal to avert a "fiscal cliff" of automatic spending cuts and across-the-board tax hikes.

But agreement on spending cuts was simply deferred until the end of February, when lawmakers must also hammer out a deal to raise the country's borrowing limit, raising the spectre of further political gridlock.

"Unless Congress extends the debt limit, the fiscal cliff that threatened in December will look like kid stuff," DBS Group Research said in a market commentary.

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