Oil prices stable after late rebound

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Oil held steady on Thursday, after staging a late rebound the previous day on upbeat US labour market data and a larger-than-expected fall in American crude inventories.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in February slipped 15 cents to 95.35 dollars a barrel in morning London deals.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for February eased just seven cents to 90.23 dollars per barrel.

The market had risen on Wednesday, rebounding from earlier declines as a sharp fall in US crude inventories added to the mood of recovery in the world's largest oil consuming nation.

Prices were supported by "better US economic data and a larger-than-expected 4.2 million barrel fall in US crude oil inventories last week," the Commonwealth Bank of Australia said in a report.

The numbers, released by the US Department of Energy late on Wednesday, were almost double analysts' forecasts of a 2.2 million barrel drop.

Meanwhile, US private hiring and service sector growth numbers also beat analysts' expectations and boosted confidence that the US economic recovery is on track.

Figures provided by private payrolls firm ADP showed the American private sector adding a seasonally adjusted 297,000 jobs in December.

That was more than triple the number created in November and above consensus forecasts of 100,000 new hirings.

Separately, the Institute of Supply Management said its non-manufacturing index rose 2.1 points to 57.1 percent last month.

Economists had predicted the index would see a more moderate rise to 55.7 percent. Any figure above 50 signifies growth in the crucial sector.


© 2011 AFP

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