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Oil prices mixed in Asia as investors await release of data from the US Fed

SINGAPORE--Oil prices were mixed in Asia Wednesday as investors await the release of U.S. Federal Reserve minutes from its July meeting, while keeping an eye on the latest stockpiles data.

U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for September delivery rose 81 cents to US$95.29 on its last day of trading. It tumbled US$1.93 in New York Tuesday as speculative traders sold off ahead of its expiration date.

Brent crude for October eased 12 cents to US$101.44.

Desmond Chua, market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore, said dealers are squaring positions before they scrutinise the minutes of a two-day Fed meeting that ended on July 30.

Investors will be looking at whether the minutes “reveal anything insightful pertaining to tightening monetary policy”, Chua said.

Crude oil stocks are projected to have fallen by 900,000 barrels on average in the week to August 15, according to analysts surveyed by the Wall Street Journal.

Gasoline stockpiles are expected to have fallen by 1.3 million barrels, while stocks of distillates, which include heating oil and diesel, are expected to have dropped by 700,000 barrels.

A decline in U.S. stockpiles typically indicates strong demand in the world's top crude consumer, supporting global prices.

Markets are continuing to track conflicts in crude producers Libya and Iraq, as well as in Ukraine, a key conduit for Russian gas exports to Europe, analysts said.

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