Oil prices up ahead of US stockpiles data, Fed meeting

Singapore, Sep 21 (AFP) Oil prices rose in Asia today astraders awaited the release of US energy stockpiles data and aUS central bank decision on interest rates. The first crude shipment from Libya in two years had noimmediate impact on prices a week before OPEC producers andRussia meet in Algeria to discuss ways to stabilise prices. At around 0240 GMT, the US benchmark West TexasIntermediate for November delivery, a new contract, was 77cents higher at USD 44.82 and Brent for November was up 59cents at USD 46.47. An oil tanker left the Libyan port of Ras Lanouf forItaly on Tuesday, in the first shipment since late 2014 whenfighting erupted over control of the "oil crescent", anofficial said in Tripoli. "The amount of oil coming out of Libya is fairly limitedso it won’t have a material impact on crude prices today,"Singapore-based OANDA senior market analyst Jeffrey Halleytold AFP. He said the shipment was meant to have gone out last weekbut was delayed because of fighting at the port. "This is indicative of the unpredictability of Libyan oilproduction because the fighting means that we don’t know howsustained their output can be," he added. He said the two factors being closely watched this weekare the Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rates andstockpile numbers to be released by the US Energy InformationAdministration (EIA). A move by the Fed’s policy-setting committee to raiseinterest rates will likely boost the dollar and make oil moreexpensive for holders of other currencies, denting demand andprices. Most analysts, however, expect officials to keepborrowing costs at current levels. "We expect the (policy board) to keep rates unchangedthis meeting," Singapore’s United Overseas Bank said in anote. But it said details of the meeting and a news conferenceby Fed chair Janet Yellen will be "closely scrutinised forhints of the next rate move". Analysts also expect the weekly US commercial crudeinventories to be released by the EIA later Wednesday to showan increase, which would further add to oversupply concerns. The OPEC producers’ group and Russia will meet in Algerianext week to discuss ways to stabilise prices, which mayinclude a deal to freeze or cut output, although there areconflicting signals such an agreement can be reached.(AFP)AMS

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