Benchmark crude for March delivery dipped to US$77.06 at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange., after spiking by two dollars on the previous day. In London, Brent crude dipped to US$75.9 on the ICE futures exchange. Oil prices continue to linger around US$77 in Asia amid expectations crude demand could improve as suggested by economic reports.
The US National Association of Realtors' index of sale contracts rose 1% in December, as buyers scrambled to take advantage of a first-time homebuyer tax credit before it was set to expire last November. This is an indication of an improving US economy which could translate into higher demand for oil products. However, at current levels, demand continues to be pegged below the weak levels of last year.