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Oil prices mixed in Asian trade

SINGAPORE, January 21 – World oil prices were mixed in Asian trade on Wednesday and lacked momentum, analysts said.

New York\’s main futures contract, light sweet crude for March delivery, was up 32 cents to 41.16 dollars a barrel in afternoon trade.

Brent North Sea crude for March delivery fell 32 cents to 43.30 dollars, reversing earlier gains.

"I think crude has no direction… (and this will) last for one to two more weeks," said Ken Hasegawa, manager of the energy desk at Newedge Japan brokerage.

On Tuesday prices fell below 33 dollars, close to a four-year low in volatile trade, before the contract for February delivery expired at 38.74 dollars a barrel.

MF Global\’s Mike Fitzpatrick said there is "perhaps the beginning indication of some inherent strength" in prices.

He said sagging equity markets and a rallying dollar had created an "environment not particularly friendly to oil prices, as we have seen, but it will take more than that to push to new lows."

The February contract expiry may have contributed to selling pressure as well, Fitzpatrick said.

As a worsening global economic crisis hits demand for oil, prices have fallen from record highs above 147 dollars reached in July.

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