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July 24, 2017

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Oil trade varied in Asia before Fed announcement

SINGAPORE--Oil was mixed in cautious Asian trade Friday as traders stayed on the sidelines ahead of a speech by U.S. Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in October shed 2 U.S. cents to US$94.60 a barrel in the afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for October delivery added 8 cents to US$112.73.

Volumes were thin and traders were "very cautious, very defensive" ahead of Bernanke's closely watched speech later Friday at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, said market strategist for IG Markets Singapore Justin Harper.

"I just think we're caught in the crosshairs of Jackson Hole where people are being very cautious across the board," he told AFP.

"Volume is so thin you can change the market very quickly," he added.

Investors are watching if Bernanke would indicate a fresh stimulus package for the U.S. economy.

IG Markets Singapore said in a commentary however it was unlikely that the U.S. central bank chief would announce a new round of quantitative easing, known as QE3, because of signs the U.S. economy was stabilizing.

"On the eve of the long-waited, highly anticipated and much-hyped Jackson Hole symposium the watchword was 'defense' as traders reduced their risks," it said.

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