Oil prices on firm footing before US energy report

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World oil prices rose slightly on Wednesday as traders awaited the latest snapshot of American crude inventories for clues on the state of demand in the world's biggest energy-consuming nation.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in August, rose 85 cents to 76.79 dollars a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for August added 78 cents to 76.22 dollars per barrel in early afternoon London trade.

"Today, the main focus for the energy market will switch to the weekly oil inventories report," said Sucden analyst Myrto Sokou.

"US employment figures and Chicago PMI data for June could also draw investors' attention, as the US consumer confidence figures yesterday were quite poor."

Later on Wednesday, at 1430 GMT, the US government's Department of Energy will publish its weekly report on oil reserves for the week ending June 25.

Crude oil inventories are expected to fall by 900,000 barrels, according to analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires. Gasoline or petrol stockpiles are seen falling by 400,000 barrels.

© 2010 AFP

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