Oil prices down in Asian trade

Oil prices eased in Asia Thursday but analysts said losses were limited as dealers focused on positive signs in a US supply report while also tracking the crisis in Yemen.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate fell 24 cents to $55.92 while Brent crude dropped 35 cents to $62.38 in afternoon trade.

"We...remain bullish on oil and this hinges on the US crude inventories," said Daniel Ang, investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore.

US commercial crude reserves in the period ending April 17 rose for the 15th straight week, adding 5.3 million barrels, the Department of Energy said Wednesday.

It said the increase lifts US oil supplies to the highest level on record.

However, production slipped by 18,000 barrels a day, following a 20,000 barrel drop in the previous week.

Dealers are hoping a slowdown in US shale output could alleviate a global crude oversupply, which led to a collapse in prices of more than 50 percent between June and January.

Singapore's United Overseas Bank said the oil market remained "volatile" as dealers kept close watch on the situation in Yemen.

A Saudi Arabia-led coalition on Wednesday launched new air strikes against rebels in the country a day after declaring its month-long campaign over.

Yemen has been gripped by turmoil since Shiite rebels launched a power takeover in Sanaa in February.

Although Yemen is not a particularly important oil producer, market watchers have been worried about the impact of the turmoil on the oil-rich region, notably in Iran, which is suspected of supporting the rebellion.

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