Oil prices down in cautious Asian trade

Oil prices edged lower in cautious Asian trade Tuesday, as dealers await a series of US economic data for clues on when the Federal Reserve will begin winding down its massive stimulus programme, analysts said.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate light sweet crude for delivery in August, was down 29 cents at $94.89 a barrel in morning trade and Brent North Sea crude for August delivery shed 18 cents to $101.98.

"Nobody seems to want to take upward positions in the market at the moment," David Lennox, resource analyst at Fat Prophets in Sydney, told AFP.

"The latest US GDP figures and other important economic numbers coming out later this week will give an indication of the direction of the US economy and the Fed," Lennox said.

Data on US home prices and durable goods orders in May and consumer confidence in June will be released later Tuesday.

The US commerce department's third estimate of US gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter of 2013 will be released Wednesday.

Lennox said investors were anticipating fairly upbeat data, which could compel the US Federal Reserve to reel in its $85-billion-a-month bond-buying later this year.

Fed chairman Ben Bernanke last week said the US central bank could begin to scale back the scheme if the economy continues to improve.