Oil prices up in Asia as OPEC lifts demand forecast


Oil prices climbed in Asian trade on Thursday after the OPEC crude cartel raised its demand forecast for this year, analysts said.

New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in March rose 19 cents to $97.20 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for April gained seven cents to $117.95.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on Tuesday raised its estimates for global oil demand this year, citing signs of a recovery in the global economy.

OPEC, which accounts for more than a third of global oil supplies, expects 89.68 million barrels of oil to be sold a day, up from 89.55 million estimated a month ago.

“Crude prices moved higher over the week… on increasing demand-side confidence,” said Sanjeev Gupta, who heads the Asia-Pacific oil and gas practice at Ernst & Young.

Capital Economics research house on Thursday said in a commentary the outlook for the economy of the United States, the world’s biggest oil consumer, is “improving”.

Although first-quarter gross domestic product “will be hit by the expiry of the payroll tax cut, growth should climb back to around 2.5 percent annualised in the second half of this year and continue at roughly the same pace in 2014,” it added.

The gains in oil prices however were capped by a separate report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) which trimmed its world oil demand forecast for 2013.

The IEA said the marginal cut of 85,000 barrels a day was in line with the prospect for a slowdown forecast by the International Monetary Fund, which last month cut its world growth estimate for 2013 to 3.5 percent from 3.6 percent.