Oil prices rise before US growth data

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World oil prices rose on Friday as the market awaited key growth data that was expected to reveal a sharp economic slowdown in the United States, the world's biggest consumer of energy.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for October delivery, climbed 21 cents to 73.57 dollars a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in October gained 33 cents to 75.35 dollars in afternoon London trade.

"Investors remain cautious ahead of a potential downgrade of US economic growth," said Myrto Sokou, analyst at Sucden Financial Research.

"Further doubts about the fragile pace of the US economic recovery could add further pressure ... and could see crude oil prices testing the downside around 70 (dollars) per barrel," she added.

Later Friday, the US government is set to revise down gross domestic product growth in the world's biggest economy, with analysts forecasting second quarter GDP of only 1.4 percent compared with an initial estimate of 2.4 percent.

At the same time, US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is scheduled to give a much-anticipated speech on the economy, with the market expecting him to touch on efforts to prevent a return to recession.

Oil rose slightly on Thursday on the back of a decline in new US weekly claims for jobless benefits as well as a weak dollar, traders said.


© 2010 AFP

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