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Oil prices mixed ahead of US energy reserves report

business Updated: Mar 31, 2010 13:59 IST

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Oil prices were mixed in Asian trade on Wednesday ahead of the release of a widely monitored US energy reserves report, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in May, was down six cents to $82.31 a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for May inched up one cent to $81.29.

Investor sentiment was dulled somewhat by a private report from the American Petroleum Institute (API) Tuesday that crude stocks in the country rose by 421,000 last week.

"The results were not bullish or bearish. People had anticipated the crude build so in general the results were expected," said Serene Lim, an oil analyst with the ANZ bank.

Traders will be looking to the weekly report due later Wednesday from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) for further clues on the state of demand in the world's biggest energy consuming market.

"Trading today will be quite range-bound. We're not seeing any news coming through so most people will be watching out for the EIA data which is expected to be in line with the API and the non-farm payrolls data on Friday," said Lim.

Meanwhile, energy producers and consumers were set on wednesday to urge improved dialogue on tackling oil price volatility in a joint ministerial declaration to be issued at the end of a key forum in Cancun, Mexico.

OPEC Secretary-General Abdalla Salem El-Badri had said on Tuesday at the biennial International Energy Forum (IEF) in Cancun that the declaration would provide "no commitment" on oil price targets.

El-Badri said that speculators were to blame for pushing crude futures to record high levels nearly two years ago amid oil supply concerns.

Oil prices surged to all-time peaks of above $147 a barrel in July 2008, before the severe global economic downturn saw them crashing to just $32.