Oil down in Asian trade

Oil prices eased in Asia on Wednesday, with traders taking profits ahead of key inventory data from the United States, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in July, dropped 16 cents to $94.85 a barrel in the afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for July delivery shed eight cents to $104.15.

"Prices have pulled back a little. We are seeing some profit-taking after the gains lately," Jason Hughes, head of sales trading at CMC Markets in Singapore, told AFP.

"Dealers are taking some risks off the table ahead of US inventory data."

The US Department of Energy later Wednesday will release data on US crude oil inventories for the week ended May 24.

Although stockpiles fell by 300,000 barrels in the week ended May 17, inventories remain high, indicating weak demand in the world's biggest crude consumer that continues to weigh on prices.

Global oil prices had rallied on Tuesday, supported by data showing an encouraging surge in US consumer confidence and home prices as markets reopened after a long holiday weekend.

US consumer confidence -- a barometer of the health of the world's biggest economy -- hit a five-year peak in May and home prices surged 11 percent year-on-year in March, the biggest annual increase in nearly seven years.

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