Oil down in Asian trade

Oil was down in Asian trade on Tuesday after overnight gains but improved confidence over the health of the US economy should limit price declines, analysts said.

New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for February delivery, dipped 15 cents to 91.40 dollars per barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for February was down three cents at 94.81 dollars.

The Institute for Supply Management reported on Monday that US manufacturing activity grew for the 17th straight month in December, bolstering confidence that the US economic recovery was gaining momentum.

And the Commerce Department reported construction spending rose by 0.4 percent in November to reach its highest point in five months.

“This adds to a sense of optimism about the accelerating US economy,” said Victor Shum, senior principal for Purvin and Gertz international energy consultants in Singapore.

The United States is the world’s biggest oil-consuming nation.

“Oil sentiment has turned decidedly bullish, partly driven by unusually cold weather, but more due to an increasingly optimistic consensus view on the 2011 economic performance, especially for the US,” analysts at JPMorgan Chase said in a client note.