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[TOKYO] Oil markets edged up on Friday to halt a two-day decline, helped by expectations that data later in the day would show a continuing decline in the US oil rig count, a clear sign of the pressure the tumble in crude is putting on oil producers.
The Baker Hughes survey is likely to show that the number of rigs drilling for oil in the United States fell for the 11th straight week to multi-year lows, market participants said. "I assume we're going to continue to see another big fall and that's going to provide support for the market," said Tony Nunan, a risk manager at Mitsubishi Corp in Tokyo. "The expected fall in the second half is being built into current prices" London Brent crude for April delivery was trading 30 cents higher at US$60.51 a barrel by 0245 GMT after settling down 32 cents on Thursday.
The contract is headed for its first weekly decline in four weeks of around 1.6 per cent, after declining 3.7 per cent in the past two sessions due to a higher-than-expected rise in US oil inventories.
Oil has rallied over the past month, with Brent gaining about 34 per cent from a mid-January low as traders covered short positions following a 60 per cent crash since June.
US crude for March delivery, which expires later in the day, was up 41 cents at US$51.57. Trading was quiet in Asian hours as markets in China, Singapore and severalother countries were closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.