| GEO Business|
Oil prices up in volatile Asian trade
| Updated at: 1241 PST, Friday, August 20, 2010|
SINGAPORE: Oil prices were up in volatile Asian trade Friday but gains were being capped by concerns over a rise in US jobless claims.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in September, was up 14 cents to 74.57 dollars a barrel in the afternoon.
Brent North Sea crude for October delivery was up eight cents to 75.38 dollars.
Hopes that the Japanese government would intervene to curtail the appreciating yen galvanised the crude markets, said Victor Shum, senior principal of Purvin and Gertz energy consultants in Singapore.
Japan is the world's third largest energy consuming nation after the United States and China.
"The markets are reacting to the expectations that the Japanese government will try to stimulate the economy with further monetary easing," he said.
On Thursday, Japanese Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda reiterated that he would closely watch the forex market, signalling his caution over the appreciating yen, which hurts exports, Japan's main economic driver.
The statement came after Noda last week said he would take "appropriate action" after the yen jumped to a 15-year high versus the dollar.
Japan's second-quarter gross domestic product grew at an annualised 0.4 percent, a disappointment for the market, which was expecting 2.3 percent growth.
Phillip Capital said in a market commentary that crude oil prices were being weighed down by an increase in US jobless claims and rising stockpiles which indicated weak energy demand.
"The negative employment picture and elevated oil inventories exerted downward pressure of crude prices," it said.