Oil prices up in Asia ahead of US energy report

Oil prices rose slightly in Asia Wednesday on cautious hopes of a rise in energy demand in the United States, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in June, added 45 cents to $89.63 a barrel in the afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for June delivery gained 25 cents to $100.56.

"There is an underlying growth-in-demand prospect with the upcoming US stockpiles data. This is fuelling positive sentiment and balancing generally softer economic data," Jason Hughes, head of sales trading at CMC Markets in Singapore, told AFP.

The US Department of Energy (DoE) will later Wednesday publish its report on crude reserves in the country for the week ending April 19.

Changes in US inventory stocks are closely watched by dealers as they indicate levels of demand in the world's top crude consumer.

"We are torn between poor global economic releases and prospects of draws in inventory levels in the United States," said Jonathan Barratt, chief executive officer at Barratt's Bulletin in Sydney.

"This week's DoE data will be keenly watched as it will provide evidence on the mean trend for demand. The market may be squaring up ahead of this."

Prices slipped on Tuesday after banking giant HSBC released data showing Chinese manufacturing weakened further in April due to softening foreign demand for its exports.

str/dan