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Oil eases in Asian trade after overnight surge

business Updated: Jan 04, 2012 09:45 IST

World crude prices inched lower in Asian trade today after soaring overnight over tensions between major oil producer Iran and the United States, analysts said.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) light sweet crude for delivery in February, dipped 14 cents to $102.82 after surging $4.13 in US trade.

Brent North Sea crude for February shed 10 cents to $112.03 after rallying $4.75 in London deals the day before.

"There has been a little bit of slowing across commodities after the rise on Tuesday. But the situation with Iran remains worrisome," said Nick Trevethan, senior commodities strategist at ANZ Research.

"The consequences of any military action in the Middle East will be enormous. A spike in crude prices will kill off any recovery in the US," he added.

Iran has threatened to choke off shipping or go after American naval ships if Western governments implement the latest round of punitive sanctions over its nuclear programme.

Its military warned on Tuesday that it would not allow a US aircraft carrier to use the Strait of Hormuz.

But the United States has insisted that it has no plans to pull warships from the region and has dismissed Tehran's threats as those of a weakened, isolated regime.

The Strait of Hormuz is a vital waterway in the Middle East through which 20% of the world's oil is transported.