Oil prices edge higher in subdued deals amid Thanksgiving

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World oil prices drifted higher on Thursday in low trading volumes due to the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, analysts said.

In late afternoon trade, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in January was up 58 cents to $107.60 a barrel.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for January, added 69 cents to $96.86.

"We still see some consolidation here with the market pausing as most players in the United States are absent on the long holiday weekend," said VTB Capital analyst Andrey Kryuchenkov.

The market also found support from the weekly US inventory report, which showed a larger-than-expected fall in crude oil reserves last week.

"The US inventories report shows declining crude oil stocks and that has supported oil," said Victor Shum, senior principal of Purvin and Gertz energy consultants in Singapore.

US crude reserves fell 6.2 million barrels in the week ending November 18, indicating strengthening demand and compared with market expectations for a gain of 300,000, according to analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.

Prices tumbled on Wednesday as a poor German bond sale pushed Europe's debt crisis to new depths and after figures showed slumping manufacturing activity in top global energy consumer China.

A stronger US currency also pushed prices lower, making dollar-priced oil more expensive for buyers holding weaker currencies.

China's manufacturing activity slumped to its lowest level in 32 months in November, banking giant HSBC said on Wednesday, renewing concerns that the Asian powerhouse is losing steam amid global economic woes.

The preliminary HSBC purchasing managers' index (PMI) dropped to 48 in November -- the lowest since March 2009 -- compared with 51 in the previous month, HSBC said in a statement.

A reading above 50 indicates the sector is expanding while a reading below 50 suggests a contraction.


© 2011 AFP

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