Oil prices rise past US$77 in Asia

Oil prices have risen past US$77 in Asia as investors refrained from action ahead of a the US Department of Energy’s inventory report. New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in September settled at US$77.6, London's Brent North Sea crude for September settled at US$76.3. Investors are out of action as they await revelations of the report before they make their next move as caution prevails in the markets following mixed economic data particularly from the US housing market and disappointing US corporate earnings reports. IBM and Goldman Sachs have revealed a slump in Q2 profits. Analyst forecast a 1.1 million barrels fall in US inventories last week, suggesting stronger consumption. An expected drawdown in inventories will be an indication of higher demand for crude.
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