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Oil prices down in Asian markets

SINGAPORE--Oil prices moved lower in Asia Thursday as dealers look ahead to fresh US economic data for clues about demand in the world's top crude consumer following a neutral weekly stockpiles report.

U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for October delivery eased 31 cents to US$93.57 while Brent crude slipped 13 cents to US$102.59 in afternoon trade.

Singapore's United Overseas Bank said “oil prices were little changed” as investors weighed a 2.1 million barrel fall in overall U.S. crude reserves, but with a 500,000-barrel increase at the key Cushing, Oklahoma depot.

The U.S. Energy Department's weekly report released Wednesday also showed a 0.4-percent increase in total petroleum inventories, including distillates and gasoline.

Desmond Chua, market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore, said investors “remain on the sidelines awaiting key U.S. economic data”.

Data on initial jobless claims for the week to August 23 as well as pending home sales figures for July will be released later Thursday, along with revised U.S. gross domestic product figures for the second quarter.

“Aside from the second reading of GDP data — which is expected to notch slightly lower, from 4 percent to 3.9 percent — the labor and housing sectors are expected to continue to show signs of growth,” Chua said.

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