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Oil prices resume decline in Asia

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Oil prices resumed their decline in Asia on Wednesday, with global crude oversupply continuing to dampen investors' sentiment despite occasional rallies.

[SINGAPORE] Oil prices resumed their decline in Asia on Wednesday, with global crude oversupply continuing to dampen investors' sentiment despite occasional rallies.

Prices had risen the previous day after a four-day losing streak, as traders weighed a bearish price outlook from the International Energy Agency (IEA) and a lowered US estimate for crude production.

The oil market has collapsed by more than half since mid-2014 with prices languishing under US$50 a barrel, hurt by the supply glut and the decision by the oil exporter grouping Opec to maintain output to counter booming US shale production.

The Paris-based IEA, in a report Tuesday, forecast that the global oil market would recover to US$80 a barrel by 2020.

At around 0300 GMT Wednesday, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for delivery in December was trading 47 cents lower at US$43.74 and Brent crude for December was down 26 cents at US$47.18.

"We continue to think the market will remain in surplus through most of 2016, which is likely to restrict the upside for prices, particularly over the fourth quarter of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016," British bank Barclays said in a market commentary.

A strong dollar, fuelled by widening expectations that the US Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next month, has also been keeping a lid on prices.

Oil is traded in the US currency and a buoyant dollar would make the commodity more expensive for those holding weaker units, lowering demand and prices.

"We expect the greenback to continue to be supported as we approach the likely lift-off in rates," Singapore's United Overseas Bank said, referring to a December 17 meeting of the Fed's policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee.

AFP