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Oil prices ease off in Asia after hitting new highs


Singapore : Oil prices eased slightly in Asia today after hitting a series of new highs this week, bolstered by a weak dollar.

The US Federal Reserve held interest rates unchanged after its policy meeting on Wednesday, signalling it was in no hurry to raise rates.

Yesterday, the dollar fell about 3.0 per cent against the Japanese yen after the Bank of Japan disappointed markets by not offering additional stimulus measures for the struggling economy.

At about 0315 GMT, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for June delivery was seven cents down at USD 45.96 while Brent North Sea for June delivery was eight cents lower at USD 48.06.

Yesterday, Brent rose to USD 48.14 a barrel, its highest price since November, while WTI traded at USD 46.03 a barrel, its loftiest mark this year.

The slight clawback during early Asian trading hours on Friday could be put to profit taking and normal market fluctuations, said Alex Wijaya, a senior sales trader with CMC Markets in Singapore.

“It used to be that any move from Saudi Arabia could control the market but increasingly, this is less so and we’re seeing moves from America, China and even Iran affecting the market,” he told AFP.

With prices edging closer to USD 50, it is possible that US shale producers might resume drilling again, bringing up production, he said.

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