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MENAFN - Qatar News Agency - 03/11/2012

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(MENAFN - Qatar News Agency) Crude turned lower in Asia Friday when traders felt worried that European manufacturing data due later Friday would disappoint, while two refineries on the US east coast remained shut.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in December, shed 42 cents to 86.67 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for December delivery slid 30 cents to 107.87.

Concerns about crude demand in the US and Europe were pulling prices south, said Jason Hughes, head of premium client management at IG Markets Singapore. "Reports that a couple of refineries in the US will remain closed and expectations that European manufacturing will remain muted signals weak demand," he said.

Two US refineries with a combined crude processing capacity of 308,000 barrels a day, which closed when superstorm Sandy hit Monday, were still awaiting post-storm assessments before reopening, media reports said.

Their continued closure highlighted a slump in demand from the world's largest oil consumer after Sandy devastated the east coast, with millions left without power and damage estimated at up to 50 billion.

In, Bangkok, expectations that demand for crude would likely be subdued in the aftermath of the massive storm that slammed into the U.S. East Coast earlier this week, caused oil prices to sag on Friday.

Benchmark crude for December delivery fell 28 cents at midday Bangkok time to 86.81 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Despite ongoing disruptions at refineries and supply terminals in the U.S. Northeast, analysts said the U.S. remained stocked with sufficient supplies and that demand for crude oil would be lower than anticipated for a few weeks.

A commodities analyst for the Economist Intelligence Unit, said the storm's impact on the oil market would likely be temporary, assuming the resumption of refinery operations.

"The recent expansion in US shale oil production will mean that crude oil stocks in the country will remain high for much of the year, depressing prices, and insulating the US somewhat from the supply risks that are putting pressure on crude oil prices elsewhere in the world," she said in a market commentary.

Benchmark oil gained 85 cents to finish at 87.09 per barrel in New York on Thursday, with positive U.S. economic news helping to boost prices.

Reports for October showed manufacturing expanded for the second straight month, private businesses added more jobs and consumer confidence was at the highest level in nearly five years. And the government says crude inventories shrank last week. The next key report is due Friday when the government releases the October jobs data.

In London, Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, fell 20 cents to end at 107.97 per barrel.

In other trading: " Heating oil fell 1.1 cent to 3.022 per gallon; " Wholesale gasoline fell 0.6 cents at 2.6273 per gallon; and " Natural gas fell 0.8 cents to 3.691 per 1,000 cubic feet.

 






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