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Oil prices ease lower

Dire economic expectations keep the price of oil low, with further volatility likely later this week when unemployment figures are released.

Oil prices fell in Asian trade today following a rebound in the US market overnight, on continued concerns over the worsening global economic crisis, analysts said. New York's main futures contract, light sweet crude for April delivery, dropped 33 US cents to US$41.32 a barrel in afternoon trade. Brent North Sea crude for April shed 41 cents to $43.29 a barrel. "The rather grim near-term economic outlook remains a drag on oil prices," said Victor Shum, an analyst with energy consultancy Purvin and Gertz in Singapore.

Market jitters over the deepening global economic crisis and financial system meltdown continues to hammer sentiment, particularly as the United States, the world's largest energy consumer, sinks deeper into recession, analysts said. "Crude oil is trading near the $40 a barrel level as traders are losing faith in the possibility that the US economy will rebound this year," said David Evans, an analyst at BetOnMarkets.com.

"Oil prices are expected to be very volatile this week especially towards the end of the week when the (US) employment data will be released." The US economy lost 598,000 jobs in January, pushing the unemployment rate to a 16-year high of 7.6 per cent. * AFP

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