LONDON  - Global oil prices rose slightly on Friday, after sharp falls the previous day, as investors awaited the release of key US crude inventories data.
Brent North Sea crude for February added 46 cents to $108.25 a barrel in midday deals in London. New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in February, added just one cent to $95.45 per barrel. “Brent futures rebounded from yesterday’s losses and climbed higher on Friday above $108 per barrel, although expectations for an increase in crude oil supplies in Libya capped gains,” said Sucden analyst Myrto Sokou.
  “The fairly disappointing Chinese PMI data, including manufacturing and services, has recently dominated the markets, adding pressure to commodity prices amid renewed concerns about a possible slowdown in the Chinese economy.” China is the world’s second biggest oil consuming nation after the United States.
Sokou added: “Today, the main focus will switch to the release of the weekly EIA oil inventories report that could give a better outlook about the US oil fundamentals.”
The US government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) inventories report, which is usually released on Wednesday, has been postponed due to the New Year’s Day holiday.
According to analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires, the average forecast is that crude oil supplies fell 2.2 million barrels last week, a fifth consecutive dip after a 10 week run of rises.
Crude futures had plunged on Thursday, with WTI losing $2.98 and Brent tumbling $3.02, following news that a major Libyan field could come back on line later this week.
“Brent prices fell by over $3 per barrel yesterday as supply concerns in Libya ease and expectations that stockpiles will sharply increase,” analyst Lucy Sidebotham at British-based energy consultancy Inenco.
“Prices have firmed back to $108 this morning rebounding slightly from yesterday’s losses.
“The Libyan government is preparing to reopen one of its larger oilfields the El Sharara over the next few days, as protesters agree to stop a strike that has cut the fields production for three months.”