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May 26, 2017

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Oil prices mixed in Asian trade on profit taking

SINGAPORE -- Oil prices were mixed in Asia Friday as profit-taking set in after rallying in response to a strong U.S. jobs report, while dealers consider the prospect of an influx of Libyan crude into global markets, analysts said.

U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate for August delivery eased 11 cents to US$103.95 while Brent crude rose five cents to US$111.05.

On Thursday the Labor Department said the U.S. economy added 288,000 jobs in June, well above expectations of 215,000, while the unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent from 6.3 percent in May.

Singapore's United Overseas Bank (UOB) said the latest data was "encouraging" as it was the fifth straight month in which more than 200,000 jobs had been created.

However, while the figures gave a boost to prices initially, UOB said they remained under pressure "as supply fears begin to ease after Libya declared an end to an oil crisis that has slashed exports."

Crude prices began easing Wednesday after Libya's interim Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thani declared that authorities had regained control of export terminals blockaded by rebels.

Production in Libya, a member of the OPEC oil cartel, has been severely limited for a year after rebels last summer blockaded terminals as part of a campaign to restore autonomy in the country's eastern region.

Its output currently stands at some 320,000 barrels per day, about a fifth of its normal production.

Tang Hsin Jin, premium client manager at CMC Markets in Singapore, said trading is likely to be subdued Friday with "a thin economic calendar" as U.S. markets are shut for the July 4 public holiday.

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