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SINGAPORE, May 23, 2011 (AFP)
Oil was down in Asian trade Monday as investor sentiment took a hit partly from worries over weak US demand, analysts said.

New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for July delivery, lost $1.47 to $98.63 a barrel, while Brent North Sea crude for July dipped $1.34 to $111.05 in the afternoon.

“Crude oil prices were weaker as (the) US economic recovery is sputtering and fuel demand may drop,” said Ker Chung Yang, commodity analyst from Phillip Futures in Singapore.

The United States is the world’s biggest oil consumer.

Traders are looking to the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) bi-annual ministerial meeting scheduled to be held in Vienna on June 8.

“It is coming close to the OPEC meeting held first week of June, which will be closely watched by the market,” Ker told AFP.

OPEC pumps 40 percent of the world’s crude.

However, while weaker US macroeconomic data weighed on prices, “the underlying fundamentals in the oil market itself remain very robust,” Barclays Capital analysts said in a commentary.

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