Oil prices moved up to US$96 on expectations of a decline in US crude stockpiles for the seventh straight week. The report is expected to show U.S. crude stocks dip by 1.8 mln barrels. Light, sweet crude for February delivery gained rose to US$96.37 a barrel in Asian electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by late morning in Singapore. February Brent crude rose to US$94.24 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
Crude futures rose in 2007 on robust demand from booming economies in Asia. Other factors that have influenced energy prices recently are the West's standoff with Iran over its nuclear program, attacks by Nigerian rebels on that oil-rich nation's crude infrastructure and Turkish attacks on Kurdish positions in northern Iraq that have sparked concerns of retaliation attacks an oil pipeline in the area.