Oil prices down in Asian trade

Oil prices fell in Asian trade Thursday after a surprise uptick in US crude stockpiles, but losses were tempered by growing concerns over turmoil in Turkey, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in July, dropped 56 cents to $95.32 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for July shed 38 cents to $103.11 in the afternoon.

"Many were expecting a seasonal drawdown on stockpiles, with the US driving season well underway, but that has not been the case," David Lennox, resource analyst at Fat Prophets in Sydney, told AFP.

The US Energy Information Administration reported on Wednesday that US crude inventories rose 2.5 million barrels in the week ending June 7, instead of the decline of 400,000 barrels expected by analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.

The data indicated weaker demand in the world's top crude oil consumer during the summer, when Americans traditionally take to the roads for holidays.

However, fears among investors about nationwide protests in Turkey are capping losses, Lennox said.

"The market is closely watching the situation in Turkey and whether it could lead to supply shocks elsewhere in the Middle East," he said.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday said he would consider holding a referendum on plans to redevelop an Istanbul park that have sparked the protests, his first major concession in nearly two weeks of unrest.

Erdogan has faced international condemnation over his handling of the protests, which have left four dead and injured nearly 5,000 demonstrators, tarnishing the country's image as a model of Islamic democracy.

Emerging Turkey is the world's 17th biggest economy and a key strategic partner in the region for the United States and other Western powers.