| GEO Business|
| Oil prices decline in Asian trade|
| Updated at: 2116 PST, Thursday, April 23, 2009|
SINGAPORE: Oil prices fell in Asian trade Thursday after US crude reserves rose higher than expected, indicating demand remained weak in the recession-hit US economy, dealers said.
New York's main futures contract, light sweet crude for June delivery, dropped 17 cents to 48.68 dollars a barrel in afternoon trade.
Brent North Sea crude for delivery in June eased 31 cents to 49.50 dollars.
The US Department of Energy's weekly report, released Wednesday, showed crude the stockpile in the world's biggest energy consumer was at its highest level in almost 20 years.
"The inventory report coming out of the US is very bearish, showing stock gains across the board for crude oil," said Victor Shum, senior principal at Purvin and Gertz energy consultancy in Singapore.
Reserves of gasoline and distilled products, such as diesel and heating fuel, also increased, confounding analyst expectations of declines.