Oil prices up in Asia, ahead of weekly US data seen showing lower stockpiles

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Oil prices gained modestly Tuesday in Asia as traders awaited weekly U.S. data on crude oil and distillates stockpiles.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil for May delivery was up 62 cents to $101.06 a barrel at 0525 GMT in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract slipped 70 cents to $100.44 on Monday following reports that four Libyan oil terminals under militia control could soon open, possibly boosting global supplies.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of oil, rose 31 cents to $106.13 on the ICE exchange in London. It fell 90 cents on Monday to $105.82.

Under a deal reached late Sunday, the Libyan militia would hand over terminals it captured and shut down last summer to demand a share in oil revenues, costing Libya billions of dollars in lost export trade.

U.S. crude oil and distillates inventories are running at or slightly below levels a year ago.

In other energy futures trading in New York:

— Wholesale gasoline rose 0.8 cent to $2.934 a gallon.

— Natural gas rose 0.4 cent to $4.48 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil climbed 0.5 cent to $2.896 a gallon.

(TSX:ECA, TSX:IMO, TSX:SU, TSX:HSE, NYSE:BP, NYSE:COP, NYSE:XOM, NYSE:CVX, TSX:CNQ, TSX:TLM, TSX:COS.UN, TSX:CVE)

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