Oil prices fall further
World oil prices fell in subdued trade on Thursday, the eve of eagerly awaited US non-farm payroll data that will provide a crucial healthcheck on the energy-hungry American economy.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in September, shed 41 cents to 82.06 dollars a barrel.
Brent North Sea crude for September delivery lost 59 cents to 81.61 dollars per barrel, in early afternoon London trade.
"Volumes may be generally subdued ahead of tomorrow's non-farm payrolls report," said analysts at the Sucden Financial Research brokerage in London.
The key data is a major event for the oil market because the United States is the world's biggest energy-consuming nation, followed by number two China.
Crude futures had fallen Wednesday for the first time in five sessions despite data showing a drop in US crude inventories suggesting greater US demand.
"Oil prices fell slightly as positive economic data was outweighed by a larger-than-expected increase in US distillate inventories and an increase in gasoline inventory," said a Commonwealth Bank of Australia report.
The report showed gasoline stocks rising 700,000 barrels last week, compared with average expectations of an 800,000-barrel decline in a Dow Jones survey of analysts.
Distillate inventories, including heating oil and diesel, also rose 2.2 million barrels, double the expected gain.
The fall in oil prices flew in the face of a sharper-than-expected fall in American crude stockpiles, which dropped 2.8 million barrels, double the amount forecast.
Oil prices had climbed above 82 dollars on Tuesday for the first time since May, despite weak US economic data.
© 2010 AFP