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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Oil above $82 as traders eye US supplies, OPEC

Oil prices rose above $82 a barrel today in Asia after a report showed US crude inventories grew less than expected last week.

Benchmark crude for April delivery was up 38 cents to $82.08 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.90 to settle at $81.70 yesterday after the Federal Reserve said it plans to hold interest rates at record lows.

Crude inventories rose 400,000 barrels last week, the American Petroleum Institute said late yesterday.

Analysts had expected an increase of 1.9 million barrels, according to a survey by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

Inventories of gasoline and distillates fell, the API said. The Energy Department's Energy Information Administration is scheduled to announce its supply report later today.

Leaders of the 12-nation Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have signaled they don't expect the group to change production quotas when it meets today in Vienna.

Despite sluggish oil demand from developed countries, some analysts expect growing consumption in Asia to help push prices higher.

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