SINGAPORE: Oil prices were mixed in Asian trade Tuesday on fresh worries about the eurozone debt crisis after leadership changes in France and Greece underscored massive public anger over austerity measures.
Expectations of an increase in US crude stockpiles, which would indicate weaker energy demand, also contributed to weak market sentiment, analysts said.
New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for delivery in June was down 13 cents at $97.81 per barrel while Brent North Sea crude for June gained 18 cents to $113.34 in morning trade.
"European election results revived worries about the eurozone debt crisis, reinforcing anxiety about anaemic economic growth and petroleum demand," said Phillip Futures in a market commentary.
The results in France and Greece "raised doubts about the region's ability to proceed with austerity measures seen as crucial to addressing soaring debt and a contracting economy," it added.
Voters in both countries displayed their discontent with austerity measures by flocking to candidates and political parties who have called for an easing of belt tightening in the embattled 17-nation bloc using the euro currency.
In France, Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande ousted President Nicolas Sarkozy, becoming the first socialist in 17 years to lead the eurozone's second-largest economy.
In Greece, mainstream parties that supported an EU-IMF bail-out of the debt-strapped country lost control of parliament.
And in Italy, the country's centre-left was also headed for victory in local elections as Italian voters joined other crisis-hit eurozone countries to reject austerity cuts.
Meanwhile, oil prices were also facing downside pressure from expectations of a spike in US crude stockpiles for the seventh consecutive week, indicating faltering demand in the world's top oil user, according to analysts.
The weekly inventory report from the US Energy Department is due Wednesday.
"US crude stockpiles may have risen to levels not seen for more than 20 years which has softened prices," said Justin Harper, market strategist at IG Markets Singapore. (AFP)