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Oil prices little changed after Yellen testimony

Oil prices traded sideways on Tuesday after the new head of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, indicated the Fed would stay the policy course mapped by her predecessor Ben Bernanke.

NEW YORK: Oil prices traded sideways on Tuesday after the new head of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, indicated the Fed would stay the policy course mapped by her predecessor Ben Bernanke.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for March, eased 12 cents to close at $99.94 a barrel. On Monday WTI ended above $100 for the first time this year, topping the level by six cents.

In London trade, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in March settled at $108.68 a barrel, a gain of five cents from the prior day's close.

Yellen, in her first public comments as Fed chair after taking the helm of the US central bank on February 1, stressed little deviation from the current strategy of the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee.

"I expect a great deal of continuity in the FOMC's approach to monetary policy," she told the Financial Services Committee of the US House of Representatives.

As markets expected, Yellen's testimony showed the Fed would continue to slowly pare back its massive monetary stimulus unless economic conditions markedly deteriorated.

"The reaction of oil prices to Yellen's remarks was fairly muted," said Forex.com markets analyst Fawad Razaqzada.

Traders were looking ahead to the Department of Energy's weekly US oil supplies data. The DoE is expected to report Wednesday a rise in crude reserves and a decline in distillates, including heating oil, as bitter cold weather grips large parts of the country.

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