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Oil prices up in Asian trade

SINGAPORE, Mar 26 – Oil prices rose in Asian trade on Thursday following an overnight decline on data showing that demand in the United States, the world\\\’s biggest energy consumer, remains weak.

New York\\\’s main futures contract, light sweet crude for May delivery, gained 53 cents to 53.30 dollars a barrel in afternoon trade.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in May advanced 73 cents to 52.48.

Jonathan Kornafel, Asian director of energy consultancy Hudson Capital, called the price a "technical rally."

Oil prices fell in US trade Wednesday as traders digested news that US crude reserves surged by more than expected last week, indicating weak demand in the world\\\’s biggest economy.

The US Department of Energy said that American crude oil reserves jumped by 3.3 million barrels in the week ending March 20, against market expectations for a smaller gain of 1.3 million barrels.

Inventories could also go up during the second quarter, traditionally a season when demand eases, said Nic Brown of Natixis.

"Stock data will become increasingly important in the coming weeks," Brown said.

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