Oil prices settle mixed ahead of Fed decision, U.S. inventory data

NEW YORK, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- Oil prices ended mixed on Tuesday as traders awaited a key policy decision from the Federal Reserve and the latest data on U.S. fuel stockpiles.

The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for March delivery rose 97 cents, or 1.25 percent, to settle at 78.87 U.S. dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude for March delivery lost 41 cents, or 0.48 percent, to close at 84.49 dollars a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange.

"Headwind is being generated by generally negative market sentiment ahead of this week's numerous central bank meetings and by the persistently high Russian oil exports," Carsten Fritsch, energy analyst at Commerzbank Research, said in a note Tuesday.

The Fed is widely expected to raise interest rates by 25 basis points when concluding a two-day policy meeting on Wednesday and the European Central Bank will meet on Thursday.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration will release its weekly petroleum status report on Wednesday.

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