Oil prices were mixed in Asian trade today after hitting multi-month highs on the back of upbeat housing data in the United States, analysts said.

New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in March, dropped four cents to $97.53 a barrel in the morning trade, while Brent North Sea crude for March delivery gained a cent to $114.37.

“Oil prices finished up yesterday, supported by strong housing data in the US. We are seeing some selling after finishing high,” said Victor Shum, Managing Director at IHS Purvin and Gertz in Singapore.

US existing home sales dipped 1.0 per cent in December from November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.94 million, the National Association of Realtors had announced yesterday. But on a 12-month basis, the sales saw a 12.8 per cent increase.

Analysts said the rise was a fresh sign that the housing market — a closely watched barometer of the health of the US economy — has turned the corner.

The market was also awaiting the end of a two-day policy meeting at the Federal Reserve for clues to the state of the world’s largest economy.

(This article was published on January 30, 2013)
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