Oil prices mixed in Asian trade

SINGAPORE - Oil prices were mixed in Asia Tuesday following weak economic data from top energy consumers the United States and China, and as dealers await a key US Federal Reserve meeting.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for October delivery fell 15 cents to US$92.77 (S$117.07), while Brent crude for November rose 14 cents to US$98.02 in mid-morning trade. Brent's October contract expired Monday at US$96.65, its lowest level since June 2012.

Singapore's United Overseas Bank said "investors continued to fret over anaemic oil demand growth" after the release of US data on Monday.

US industrial production unexpectedly fell in August by 0.1 per cent, after six months of gains. Manufacturing output meanwhile fell 0.4 per cent.

The data added to worries after China reported over the weekend that industrial production stuttered in August, with growth dropping sharply to 6.9 per cent, the slowest pace in more than five years.

Analysts said investors were awaiting the highly anticipated two-day meeting of the Federal Reserve's policy-making committee that begins Tuesday.

They are concerned by the prospect the Fed will begin hiking interest rates sooner than expected, and will be scrutinising statements by the central bank's chief Janet Yellen on Wednesday.

The Fed has previously said it would keep interest rates low for a "considerable time" after ending its massive stimulus programme, based on continued weakness in the labour market.

Its once US$85 billion-a-month bond buying programme is expected to fully wind down by the end of October.