Oil prices edged lower in Asian trade today with little progress made in ending the bitter US government shutdown that has sparked fears of a chaotic debt default, analysts said.
New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in November, was down one cent at USD 103.48 in mid-morning trade while Brent North Sea crude for November eased 16 cents to USD 110.00.
"There has been little change in the focus on the oil front as the US budget stand-off continues to put pressure on prices," Desmond Chua, market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore, told AFP.
With the partial US government shutdown entering its ninth day, President Barack Obama yesterday said he would not give in to demands from Republicans to make cuts to his healthcare law before they agree to a new budget and raise the country's borrowing limit.
However, he did say he would accept a short-term deal to lift the debt ceiling and reopen the government -- a move that would effectively postpone the crisis for a number of weeks.
Failure to lift the ceiling by a October 17 deadline will mean the government is unable to pay its bills or service its debts, causing a default that analysts have warned could send the world economy back into recession.
Despite Obama's comments Chua said "investors are still well aware that a resolution still depends on the House (of Representatives), which remains deadlocked".
Dealers will be looking later today to the release of a weekly US oil inventory report, with expectations of in stockpiles of 1.4 million barrels, according to a survey by Dow Jones Newswires.