Oil down in afternoon Asian trade

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jul 08 2011 03:05 PM | Updated as of Jul 08 2011 11:05 PM

SINGAPORE - Oil fell in Asian trade on Friday afternoon as dealers took profits from a recent rally, analysts said.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for August delivery, lost three cents to $98.64 a barrel, while Brent North Sea crude for August was down 67 cents to $117.29.

"I don't see anything massive affecting the markets.. There is some profit-taking," said Jason Feer, an analyst at Argus Media.

Crude prices had risen in earlier trading after US government data showed a decline in petrol stocks, which was seen as a sign of improved demand in the current US summer driving season.

The Department of Energy (DoE) said gasoline reserves fell 600,000 barrels in the week ending July 1.

That figure, which confounded expectations for a gain of 200,000 barrels, indicated stronger demand as prices fell and summer vacations began in the world's biggest oil-consuming nation.

However crude inventories were down 900,000 barrels last week, well short of forecasts for a 2.4-million-barrel drop.

"Though crude oil stockpiles fell less than expected, overall, coupled with other refined products, it was still a very bullish set of DoE data," said Serene Lim, an analyst with ANZ bank in Singapore.

Crude prices were also given a boost by US jobs numbers and encouraging retail sales figures.

Payrolls firm ADP said private businesses added 157,000 jobs in June, a solid jump after the weak 36,000 job increase in May.

The ADP figures encouraged sharply higher revisions of forecasts for Friday's much-awaited US non-farm payrolls (NFP) data for June.