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Oil prices mixed as '13 draws to a close

LONDON--Global crude oil prices were mixed in holiday-reduced trade on Tuesday, with gains limited as some investors took profits before the year-end.

Brent North Sea crude for February added 15 cents to US$111.36 a barrel in late morning deals.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in February, shed 37 cents to US$98.92 per barrel.

Crude futures had fallen by more than a dollar in New York on Monday, after closing above the psychologically important US$100 level on Friday, buoyed by upbeat sentiment about U.S. demand.

The oil market was also under pressure this week following comments from the Libyan national oil company that some operations in the country had resumed.

Output from the North African state has been hit by a months-long blockade of key export terminals by armed protesters.

Investors remain concerned over the escalating violence in fledgling oil producer South Sudan, as the United Nations on Monday said an armed conflict was escalating.

More than 1,000 people have died since fighting between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and former vice president Riek Machar broke out on Dec. 15.

Analysts say the country usually exports about 220,000 barrels of crude oil a day to Japan, Malaysia and China.

During 2013, meanwhile, Brent crude prices were virtually unchanged.

However, New York futures have risen more than 12 percent, amid tight supply concerns earlier in the year caused by the threat of U.S. military action on Syria.

But price gains were partly kept in check by weaker Chinese economic data that raised doubts about the strength of global energy demand going forward.

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