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Oil approaches key USD 40 level in Asian trade

Oil prices

Singapore: Oil prices slid to a fresh six and a half year low in Asia today, approaching the key USD 40 a barrel level after a surprise rise in US inventories added to concerns of a supply glut.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in September, which expires today, dipped 32 cents to USD 40.48 after falling sharply in New York to its lowest level since March 2009.

Brent crude for October dropped 25 cents to USD 46.91 a barrel.

“US stockpiles unexpectedly expanded when the market was looking at a contraction, which heightened the global oversupply concerns,” said Bernard Aw, a market strategist at IG Markets in Singapore.

“This added pressure to crude prices, and we see WTI drop below USD 41, heading towards the key $40 level. We could see more downsides, given that the current conditions remain unfavourable to oil.”

The US Department of Energy yesterday said oil stockpiles rose 2.6 million barrels in the week ending August 14, and reported a 300,000 barrel rise at the closely watched Cushing, Oklahoma trading hub.

The surprise jump in inventories at a time when they normally fall added to concerns of a global surplus, particularly as signs emerge that demand is faltering in top energy importer China.

Analysts predict oil could now reach levels not seen since the throes of the financial crisis, pressured by a strong dollar and the anticipated return of Iranian oil to world markets.

But Daniel Ang, an investment analyst with Phillip Futures in Singapore, said he expects WTI to be supported at USD 40 a barrel in today’s trading session.

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