SINGAPORE (Commodity Online) : Global oil prices remained below $79 a barrel mark in Asian trade Wednesday mainly on increase in US crude inventory amid a strong dollar.

Light sweet crude for February delivery was seen trading at $78.78 a barrel at 12.00 noon Singapore time while Brent crude was at $77.61 a barrel at the same time.

The black gold eased after five days as American Petroleum Institute said Tuesday US inventories of crude oil rose 1.73 million barrels last week to 330.5 million.

The Energy Department is scheduled to release its weekly inventory report Wednesday.

Futures contracts for oil, natural gas and heating oil have all become more expensive this month as snow storms blanketed parts of the U.S. and a sharp drop in supplies of crude and other fuels surprised traders.

A stronger dollar was dampening traders' sentiment. Oil is traded in US dollars and a strengthening greenback makes the commodity more expensive for holders of weaker units, leading to lower demand.

On Tuesday, February delivery settled 10 cents, or 0.1 per cent, higher at $78.87 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest settlement since November19.

Brent crude on the ICE futures exchange settled at $77.65 a barrel, up 33c, or 0.4 percent.

Colder weather in the US Northeast is giving momentum to investors who believe oil prices should be closer to the top of the $70 to $80 a barrel range that's roughly bound the market over the last couple months.

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