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Oil prices stable before rate calls, US data

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Global crude oil prices steadied on Thursday as traders awaited interest rate decisions in Frankfurt and London, and on the eve of critical US non-farm payrolls data.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in May added 25 cents to $107.36 a barrel in late morning deals in London.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) light sweet crude for May, dipped six cents to $94.39 a barrel.

Later on Thursday, at 1145 GMT, the European Central Bank is widely expected to maintain eurozone borrowing costs at a record low level of 0.75 percent.

All eyes will be on ECB president Mario Draghi's subsequent press conference, at 1230 GMT, for comments to calm the markets after last week's EU/IMF bailout of Cyprus.

In addition, the Bank of England is also expected to maintain record low interest rates at 0.50 percent.

"Today is likely to be fairly dull trading, with some attention on the ECB press conference, while a stronger dollar will continue to limit the upside," said VTB Capital analyst Andrey Kryuchenkov.

"More importantly, we are likely to pause ahead of US non-farms tomorrow. "

The non-farm payrollls figures are widely considered to be a key indicator for the health of the world's biggest economy.

The oil market had rebounded in earlier Asian deals on Thursday after the previous day's sharp losses that were sparked by signs of weak demand in top crude consumer the United States.

Crude futures had slumped by about $3 a barrel on Wednesday after the US Energy Information Administration revealed that US crude reserves rose 2.7 million barrels to 388.6 million barrels.

That was almost double market expectations for an increase of 1.5 million barrels.

Surging US inventories signal weaker demand and tends to put downward pressure on prices.

A pipeline closure ExxonMobil's Pegasus pipeline in Arkansas, a 95,000 barrel-a-day line, has also sparked fears of a build-up of stockpiles at the Cushing, Oklahoma, which is a key delivery point.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130404/oil-prices-stable-rate-calls-us-data