Crude prices diverge before US inventories

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Crude prices diverged on Wednesday before the publication of energy inventory data in the United States -- the world's biggest oil-consuming nation.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in June, shed 22 cents to $110.83 a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for June gained 11 cents to $122.56 in afternoon London deals.

The US government's Department of Energy publishes its weekly inventory data at 1430 GMT.

Data released on Tuesday by the private American Petroleum Institute and predicting a 3.2 million barrel gain in US inventories was depressing markets, said Ong Yi Ling, investment analyst for Phillip Futures in Singapore.

"This is much more than the two million barrels forecast so this is weighing on crude markets currently," she told AFP.

An increase in US stockpiles indicates softer energy demand in the world's largest oil consuming nation.

Ong added that the death of bin Laden was also tempering costs as it "has resulted in a reduction of the risk premium allocated to crude oil".

The Saudi-born Al-Qaeda leader was killed on Monday in a raid by US special forces deep inside Pakistan.

© 2011 AFP

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