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Oil prices diverge before US inventory data


Oil prices were mixed on Wednesday as traders were set to temporarily switch their attention away from Cyprus to upcoming US energy inventory figures.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in May won 24 cents to $109.60 a barrel.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for May, dropped 57 cents to $95.77 a barrel.

"Today, the main focus will switch to the release of the weekly oil inventories report that could provide a better insight about the levels of the US oil demand," said Sucden brokers analyst Myrto Sokou.

Oil prices had rallied on Tuesday as data showed US home prices crept higher in January and new orders for durable goods surged 5.7 percent in February, driven by a sharp rise in civilian aircraft sales.

Positive US economic numbers continue "to be a white knight within the unpredictable global economy," IG Markets Singapore said in a report.

"No region is more volatile than the eurozone, and it has done its best to dent confidence in an economic recovery this year," it added.

Worries over the eurozone have this week risen on fears that the controversial terms of a financial bailout for Cyprus could be mirrored in any future financial rescues of the bloc's indebted members.

Nicosia overnight Sunday-Monday agreed a last-minute deal with its international lenders that will see it receive a $13 billion rescue package to help pay its bills.

And while the decision to tax bank savings above 100,000 euros raised fears of a similar move in future rescues -- reinforced by comments from the head of the Eurogroup of finance ministers -- officials have since insisted that Cyprus is a special case.