Crude oil prices fluctuated between small gains and losses during Asian trading hours on Friday after a steep drop in crude oil imports by the U.S. and the market assessment that the high demand seen during the last week is unlikely to sustain.

The crude-oil stockpiles in U.S. were down by 7.7 million barrels at 350.2 million barrels in the week ended 10 January.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in March traded at USD94.20 a barrel during U.S. trading, up 0.11%. On Thursday the New York-traded oil futures hit a session low of USD94.15 a barrel and a high of USD94.28 a barrel.

The March contract settled at USD94.26 a barrel on Thursday. Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at USD91.65 a barrel, Monday''s low, and resistance at USD94.81 a barrel, Wednesday''s high.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported earlier that its manufacturing index improved to 9.4 in January from 6.4 in December. Analysts had expected a reading of 8.6, and the upbeat reading sparked hopes for more robust activity in the nation''s factories will hike demand for energy.

Indicators of future activity moderated, the report added, though they continued to indicate general optimism concerning economic growth over the next six months, which sent oil trimming earlier losses.

Supply concerns sent oil dipping earlier.

Recent talks among the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, Germany, France and Iran ended in agreement on a six-month deal that will limit advancements in Iran''s nuclear program in exchange for easing economic sanctions against Tehran starting Jan. 20.

In November, Iran pledged to eliminate its stocks of 20% enriched uranium within six months and limit the enrichment of uranium to 5%.

Trade sanctions slapped on Iran due to its alleged nuclear ambitions have taken out more than 1 million barrels of oil per day from the global market over the past two years.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for March delivery were down 0.09% and trading at USD105.49 a barrel, while the spread between the Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at USD11.29 a barrel

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger