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Oil prices edge higher in Asia


Oil prices edged higher in Asian trade Wednesday, buoyed by solid gains in US stocks and stronger demand in the world's biggest economy, analysts said.

Concerns about a disruption in Middle East supply caused by the turmoil in Egypt have eased after a timetable for fresh polls was announced Tuesday following last week's military coup.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in August, gained 81 cents to $104.34 a barrel in afternoon trade and Brent North Sea crude for August delivery was up one cent at $107.82.

"Traders have shifted their focus from the Egypt violence to the positive sentiment in the US equity markets," Kelly Teoh, market strategist at IG Markets in Singapore, said in a note.

US stocks Tuesday closed solidly higher for the fourth straight day on optimism about corporate earnings.

Most Asian stock markets were also up Wednesday, cheered by the rally on Wall Street.

The market gains came despite the latest economic forecast from the IMF, which trimmed world growth expectations for 2013 to 3.1 percent from the April forecast of 3.3 percent.

Oil prices were also supported by data from the American Petroleum Institute (API) showing inventories in the United States dropped by nine million barrels last week, indicating a pickup in energy demand.

Lee Chen Hoay, investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore, said the API data surpassed expectations for a drawdown of 3.3 million barrels.

The US Energy Information Administration will release the official crude inventory data for the week to July 5 later Wednesday.