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Crude mixed in Asian trade

SINGAPORE, Dec 24 – Oil prices were mixed in quiet Christmas eve trade in Asia, coming off two-year highs buoyed by upbeat US consumer confidence figures, analysts said.

New York\’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February, shed 13 cents to 91.38 dollars per barrel in the afternoon after hitting 91.63 dollars in intraday trade on Thursday, its highest level since October 2008.

Brent North Sea crude for February delivery advanced 31 cents to 94.56 dollars. Its price had soared to 94.54 dollars in intraday trade Thursday — a level also last seen in early October 2008.

Crude prices were being supported "as confidence among US consumers advanced to six-month highs, signalling more fuel demand", the Commonwealth Bank of Australia said in a report.

A University of Michigan survey released late Thursday showed consumer confidence in the world\’s biggest oil user hitting six-month highs in December.

The index placed consumer sentiment for this month at 74.5, as compared with November\’s 71.6 level.

"Consumer confidence improved in December to its best level in six months and its second highest level since the start of 2008," the survey said.

"The gain was due to improved employment expectations that made consumers more willing to spend and adopt more favorable prospects for the overall economy."

Consumer confidence in the US economic recovery increases the likelihood that people will spend more, fuelling growth as well as energy demand.

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