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[SINGAPORE] Oil prices climbed in Asia Tuesday ahead of a key meeting of the Opec oil cartel and a report on US commercial crude inventories to gauge demand in the world's biggest oil consuming nation.
Analysts said the impact of comments by the Saudi Arabian oil minister that his country was prepared to work with other oil producers to stabilise prices was muted because there was no firm signal to slash production to ease the glut in global crude supples.
The market will be closely watching the gathering of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) on December 10 for firm announcements regarding the cartel's lofty production levels, analysts added.
Opec's decision in November 2014 to maintain high output despite falling prices accelerated a decline from peaks of more than US$100 a barrel in seen earlier in the year.
At around 0310 GMT, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for January delivery was up 16 cents at US$41.91 and Brent crude for January was trading 17 cents higher at US$45.00.
"There was no concrete signal from the Saudi oil minister's remarks that Opec will cutback on production so the impact is limited," said Daniel Ang, an investment analyst with Phillip Futures in Singapore.
"If there had been such a signal, prices would be shooting up much higher right now." He said markets were waiting for the Opec meeting to see if the cartel "really means business" to trim production.
Traders are also waiting for a report Wednesday showing US commercial crude stockpiles in the week ending November 20 and expectations are that the data will show another build.
BMI Research said slower growth in emerging markets is helping keep prices low because of its impact on oil demand.
"Prices will struggle to recover, with lacklustre demand lagging global supply. Diesel is the most exposed from weaker growth, an economic rebalancing in China and the slowdown in global trade," it said in a market commentary.