Oil Demand To See Slight Uptick

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The International Energy Agency says crude oil demand will rise slightly more than expected in 2010, due in large part to China's robust economic output. The IEA said it expects crude consumers to burn an average of 86.3 million barrels a day next year, 130,000 barrels more than previously forecast, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

IEA's outlook is far rosier than other estimates. Last week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration lowered its 2010 global demand outlook and OPEC's forecast is about half that of IEA's. IEA forecasts a modest uptick in U.S. demand of 0.7% in 2010 after a decline of 4% in 2009.

Chinese demand is expected to rise by nearly 100,000 barrels a day next year with the world's largest country consuming 8.7 million barrels a day, or almost 4% above 2009's levels.

The Journal noted that some analysts find the prospect of rising global demand for crude to be dubious given the uncertain economic outlook and that even China's voracious demand cannot liquidate massive unused oil stocks across the globe.

Oil prices slipped below $69 a barrel on Monday in Asian trading as traders feared OPEC won't cut production when it meets next week.