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Oil higher in Asian trade

SINGAPORE, Apr 9 – Oil prices were higher in Asian trade Thursday, pushed up by a smaller-than-expected rise in US crude reserves, analysts said.

New York\’s main contract, light sweet crude for May delivery gained 1.48 dollars to 50.86 dollars.

Brent North Sea crude for May delivery advanced 1.50 dollars to 53.09 dollars.

Prices received a mild boost from the latest US energy report released Wednesday, which showed the country\’s crude stocks increased by a smaller margin than the industry had forecast, analysts said.

The weekly Department of Energy report showed crude reserves rose by 1.6 million barrels in the week ending April 3, lower than the gain of 1.9 million barrels that analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had predicted.

"The increase in US crude oil inventories was less than some had feared," said David Moore, a commodity strategist with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Sydney.

Oil prices are down significantly from record peaks of above 147 dollars reached in July last year, pulled down by worries about the global crisis, but Algeria\’s energy minister had an upbeat outlook.

"The global economy is starting to pick up, especially in the United States," Algeria\’s energy minister Chakib Khelil told AFP on Wednesday.

"A barrel could hover around 70 dollars between the end of 2009 and early 2010 and then rise to 80 dollars," he said.

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