Crude down in Asia on profit-taking

Crude down in Asia on profit-taking

Crude prices fell in Asian trade Thursday as buyers took profits after an overnight rally saw prices surge to five-month highs, analysts said.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) light sweet crude for December delivery, fell 41 cents to $102.18 per barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in January retreated $1.07 to $110.81.

Traders were reaping profits, said Victor Shum, senior principal for Purvin and Gertz energy consultants in Singapore.

"WTI prices rose very sharply overnight to pass this psychologically important level of $100. It's the first time since June this year to close above $100," he told.

"It's not surprising that after such a rise we see profit-taking," Shum added.

WTI crude prices galloped to $102.89 in intraday US trade, buoyed by the sale of an American pipeline stake that could reduce transport bottlenecks in the US midwest and boost demand for US and Canadian crude.

The market closed at $102.59 a barrel, up a hefty $3.22 from Tuesday's closing level.

Shum stated that prices would remain above $100 in the near term, supported by a US inventory report issued late Wednesday that showed a slump in crude stockpiles in the world's largest oil consumer.

The Department of Energy reported that US crude stocks fell 1.06 million barrels last week, slightly lower than analyst predictions of a 1.2 million drawdown but defeating American Petroleum Institute forecasts of a 1.3 million gain.

"From the US inventory situation we got a picture that is quite bullish. So pricing is likely in the short term to stay above 100 dollars," he said.

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