Oil prices steady ahead of expected US rate cut

Written by Agencies | Singapore, April 30: | Updated: Apr 30 2008, 13:45pm hrs
World oil prices on Wednesday held steady in Asian trade ahead of an expected US Federal Reserve interest rate cut.

New York's main oil futures contract, light sweet crude for June delivery, was five cents lower at 115.58 dollars per barrel.

The contract slid 3.12 dollars on Tuesday at the New York Mercantile Exchange.

London's Brent North Sea crude for June delivery rose eight cents to 113.51 dollars a barrel, after settling at 113.43 dollars on Tuesday. The contract had slipped by 3.31 dollars at the close.

Analysts said the sharp falls yesterday stemmed in part from the end of a two-day strike at Scotland's Grangemouth refinery that also had closed the Forties North Sea pipeline, which supplies 40 per cent of Britain's oil and gas.

The market was turning its attention to the Fed's two-day meeting which ends later today. Analysts expected the central bank to cut its base lending rate by a quarter point to 2.0 per cent before taking a pause after a series of aggressive rate cuts to stimulate the ailing US economy.

"Attention is turning to focus on the (Fed) meeting," analysts at energy consultancy John Hall Associates wrote in a note to clients.

New York crude touched a new intraday record high of 119.93 dollars Monday, lifted by the Scottish refinery strike and fresh violence and a separate strike in Nigeria, Africa's largest producer of crude.