Oil prices higher in Asian trade

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Mar 30 2012 12:43 PM | Updated as of Mar 30 2012 08:43 PM

Singapore - Crude rebounded in Asian trade Friday after the United States said no decision had been made on tapping strategic oil reserves, analysts said.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in May, gained 66 cents to $103.44 per barrel while Brent North Sea crude for May settlement was up 47 cents at $122.86.

"Despite the widespread speculation, nothing has come to fruition so far about the release of oil reserves and I think the market is reacting to that," said Justin Harper, market strategist at IG Markets Singapore.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday: "I will say, as I have said repeatedly, that this option is on the table, but no decisions have been made and no specific actions have been proposed."

Oil prices had dipped in recent days on speculation that major consumer nations such as the United States, Britain and France could tap their strategic reserves to increase supply.

Prices also remain supported by wariness over a possible supply crunch brought on by Western sanctions on Iranian oil.

"The concerns are still there about Iran and a disruption in the Middle East," said Harper.

Output from one of OPEC's biggest producers has shrunk considerably on the back of sanctions from the US and its Western allies, who believe that Tehran is working towards nuclear weapons capability despite Iranian denials.