Oil prices fall back after brief surge

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World oil prices fell back Thursday on profit-taking a day after jumping sharply as official data showed a huge decline in US crude inventories, analysts said.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in January dipped 32 cents to 91.88 dollars a barrel in London trade.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for January, lost 49 cents to 88.13 dollars.

Oil soared on Wednesday after the US government's Department of Energy said that American crude reserves fell 9.9 million barrels in the week to December 10 -- the biggest weekly drop in eight years.

Analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had expected a fall of only 2.7 million barrels during freezing weather in the US northeast region, the world's biggest heating oil consumer.

"We expect US energy markets to continue to tighten through 2011 as economic recovery gains momentum and the US household sector gradually recovers," analysts from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia said in a commentary.

"This will help underpin stronger oil market demand and is a key reason we see oil prices headed towards 100 dollars a barrel next year," they said.

Oil first hit 100 dollars in January 2008

© 2010 AFP

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