Bargain hunting boosts oil prices in Asia

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jan 26 2011 02:24 PM | Updated as of Jan 26 2011 10:24 PM

SINGAPORE - Crude oil prices rose in Asian trade Wednesday, snapping a 6-session losing streak in New York as traders looked for bargains after a recent sell-off, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for March delivery, was up 22 cents to $86.41 per barrel.

The contract lost roughly six percent of its value after falling for six straight sessions since last week, and plunged to $86.12 in intraday trade on Tuesday, its lowest since early December.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in March gained 40 cents to $95.65.

"I think oil traders are bargain hunting after prices declined significantly from $93 last week," said Ong Yi Ling, investment analyst for Phillip Futures in Singapore.

Prices had been battered in Tuesday trade as disappointing economic releases in the US and Britain hamstrung crude markets.

Official data showed the British economy shrank unexpectedly, by 0.5 percent, in the fourth quarter of 2010.

It was the first contraction since the third quarter of 2009 and surprised most analysts, who had forecast 0.4% growth.

US home prices dropped in November for the fifth straight month, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index released Tuesday, the latest reminder of the grim housing crisis in the world's largest economy.