Oil prices mixed in quiet trade

Crude oil prices were mixed in quiet trade Tuesday as investors pitted upbeat economic data against a slack global demand outlook and tensions in the Middle East, analysts said.

New York's West Texas Intermediate (WTI), or light sweet crude for November delivery, rose 24 cents from Monday to close at $92.09 a barrel.

In London trade, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in November sank 73 cents to $115.07 a barrel. The contract expired at the close.

"Overall the crude markets were very quiet, without much movement one way or the other," BMO Capital Markets analysts said.

The New York futures contract had followed the financial markets higher on a buoyant macroeconomic background including US industrial production data, improving German investor confidence, and talk that Spain may soon seek European Central Bank aid, said Tim Evans at Citi.

"The market is also bracing for weekly US inventory data," he added.

According to analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires, the US Department of Energy is expected to report Wednesday that crude oil stockpiles rose by 900 barrels last week, after jumping 1.7 million barrels the prior week.

"Most are expecting a build in crude inventories," said James Williams at WTRG Economics.

Meanwhile, the oil markets also were getting support from persistent fears about tensions in the Middle East, particularly Iran, analysts said.

"Supporting oil are the tighter sanctions on Iran from the EU," said Purvin & Gertz analyst Victor Shum.

European Union foreign ministers on Monday agreed tough new sanctions against Iran, aimed at forcing a breakthrough in talks on Tehran's nuclear program, and also against the regime in war-ravaged Syria.

Spain continued to be a thorn in the side of traders as it supposedly teeters on the edge of EU financial aid, said Justin Harper, an analyst with IG Markets Singapore.

"While many had hoped it would have already secured a bailout package, trading floor folk are talking about November as the earliest the Spanish government will go cap in hand to the European rescue fund."

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