Oil up in Asia on short-covering

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Oil prices inched up in Asian trade Friday as wary traders bought up cheap crude to recoup some of their losses after markets plunged in overnight trade, analysts said. New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in August, gained 34 cents to $78.54 a barrel, up from $78.20 in New York, its lowest level since the beginning of October last year. Brent North Sea crude for August delivery advanced 36 cents to $89.59 after tumbling to $89.23 in late Thursday trade, dipping below the $90 line for the first time since December 2010. Traders were buying crude in an attempt to cover some of the losses they had sustained overnight, said Jason Hughes, head of premium client management at IG Markets Singapore. “We’re seeing a small bounce for now. There is potential for a little bit of short-covering given the big moves last night,” he told AFP. But Hughes said the market outlook remained grim following disappointing numbers from China and Europe. Preliminary data from banking giant HSBC on Thursday showed China’s manufacturing activity hit a seven-month low in June. And eurozone private sector activity sank to the lowest level for three years in the second quarter, a survey showed.