Oil price dips
World oil prices eased on Thursday, holding close to 76 dollars as the market struggled for fresh direction.
Brent North Sea crude for delivery in October shed 12 cents to 76.35 dollars a barrel in early afternoon London trade.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for September, lost just one cent to 75.41 dollars. The contract expires at the close of trade on Thursday.
"Crude oil prices remained under pressure and traded either side of 76 dollars per barrel ... struggling for direction," said analyst Atilla Widnell at the Sucden Financial Research brokerage in London.
"European equities have turned positive, following small gains in the Asian markets, and (that) could help to set the tone higher for the energy market."
He added that traders will switch their focus later Wednesday to more data from top energy-consuming nation the United States.
"Today, the main focus will switch to the US jobless claims figures as well as the leading index and (Philadelphia) Fed business data that could provide some light on US economic conditions," Widnell said.
"The global equity markets and the currency movements are likely to remain the key elements for the near-term."
A lower-than-expected fall in US crude reserves has dampened market sentiment, according to Ong Yi Ling, an investment analyst for Phillip Capital in Singapore.
"On the whole, we're still looking at record high inventories which could exert downward pressure on crude," she said.
US crude reserves fell 800,000 barrels in the week ending August 13, less than forecast, official figures showed on Wednesday.
Gasoline (petrol) inventories were flat, while analysts had predicted a drop of 500,000 barrels.
© 2010 AFP