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Oil prices down in Asian trade

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Singapore, Oct 31 (AFP) Oil prices fell in Asia today, pressured by a stronger dollar as dealers speculated over whether the Federal Reserve will lift interest rates sooner than later, analysts said.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for December delivery fell 16 cents to USD 80.96 while Brent crude for December was down 31 cents at USD 85.93 in mid-morning trade.

Singapore’s United Overseas Bank said crude prices faced downward pressure “as expectations that US interest rates may rise sooner than previously thought pushed the dollar to its highest in more than three weeks”.

The US Commerce Department yesterday said the world’s largest economy grew at an annualised 3.5 per cent in July-September owing to stronger exports and defence spending.

The figure exceeded expectations for a 3.0 per cent rise.

The reading, coupled with upbeat comments about the jobs market from the Fed on Wednesday, stoked speculation that the bank could hike interest rates earlier than its timetabled mid-2015 date.

With rates widely expected to rise next year, traders have piled back into the dollar, pushing it back towards 110 yen.

A stronger greenback makes dollar-priced oil more expensive for buyers using weaker currencies, denting demand and pushing prices lower.

A slew of US economic data to be released later today, including on personal spending, personal income and consumer sentiment, will next be in focus among investors, analysts said. (AFP)

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