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Oil up in Asian trade


Oil was up in Asia on Friday on market speculation the OPEC cartel would cut output ahead of a meeting next month to stop Brent crude prices -- which remained below $100 a barrel -- from falling further.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in May added 43 cents to $88.16 a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for June delivery gained 30 cents to $99.43 but still below the psychological threshold of $100 a barrel.

"There are rumours that OPEC may call for an emergency meeting to discuss output if Brent prices stay below $100 a barrel," Ker Chung Yang, senior investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore, told AFP.

"This is boosting oil prices in the near term."

Brent prices had hit a multi-month lows this week as poor economic data from China and the United States left dealers concerned about the strength of global economic recovery.

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) earlier this month kept its world oil demand forecasts for 2012 and 2013 virtually unchanged, with China expected to contribute the most to growth while industrialised countries appeared to be headed for a decline.

Sanctions-hit Iran, OPEC's fourth largest producer, said on Wednesday that it considers the "logical" price of crude to be around $100 to $120 a barrel.

Analysts said the $100 price for Brent is considered ideal by Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, and crossing below it could prompt the oil cartel's members to cut back on production.