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Oil above $95 after Bernanke stimulus comments

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[July 15, 2011]  SINGAPORE (AP) -- Oil prices hovered above $95 a barrel Friday in Asia after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said another round of monetary stimulus was not imminent.

InsuranceBenchmark oil for August delivery was down 22 cents to $95.47 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude fell $2.36 to settle at $95.69 on Thursday.

In London, Brent crude fell 24 cents to $116.02 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

Bernanke said Thursday that there would have to be signs of deflation before the Fed would consider a third round of Treasury bond purchases, known as quantitative easing, or other stimulus measures.

Quantitative easing weakens the U.S. dollar and boosts demand for oil, which is traded in dollars. On Wednesday, Bernanke's comments that the Fed would consider more stimulus if the economy worsens had sent oil prices higher.

Crude surged from $84 in February to near $115 in May as a civil war in Libya shut down almost all of the OPEC country's 1.6 million barrels a day of oil output. Crude has traded in the $90s for most of the last two months.

Some analysts worry that Libya's oil industry will be disrupted for longer than expected because the conflict has hardened into a stalemate and a departure of leader Moammar Gadhafi could create chaos.

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"To expect a return to the prior status quo in Libya, either politically or in the context of the oil market both in the short and the long term, would be incorrect," Barclays Capital said in a report. "There is likely to be a tremendous political vacuum in the absence of Gadhafi."

Libya on Thursday barred Italy from future participation in its oil sector because of Rome's role in NATO airstrikes on the country.

In other Nymex trading in August contracts, heating oil fell 1.8 cents at $3.07 a gallon while gasoline dropped 2.1 cents at $3.10 a gallon. Natural gas futures gained 1.4 cents at $4.39 per 1,000 cubic feet.

[Associated Press; By ALEX KENNEDY]

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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