Crude prices were mixed in Asian trade Thursday amid caution ahead of a possible rate cut by the European Central Bank (ECB) when it meets later in the day, analysts said.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in August fell 77 cents to $86.89 a barrel while Brent North Sea crude for August delivery added 12 cents to $99.89.
Crude traders were hoping for additional stimulus measures besides a widely expected slashing of the ECB's key interest rate, which currently stands at an all-time low of 1.0 percent, Phillip Futures said in a report.
"Attention in the markets today will focus on Thursday's ECB meeting with expectations of a rate cut," the report stated.
"The ECB has pumped more than 1 trillion euros into the banking system and there are hopes it could announce more cheap long-term loans or other non-conventional measures such as a resumption of its bond purchasing scheme."
Ahead of the meeting, analysts have predicted that the ECB -- which has held interest rates in the 17 countries that share the debt-wracked euro currency at 1.0 percent since December -- will cut its rate to 0.75 percent.
Other anti-crisis measures on the table include a hotly contested programme of indirectly buying up the bonds of debt-mired countries; an injection of more than 1.0 trillion euros ($1.26 trillion) into the banking system to avert a dangerous credit squeeze; and the relaxation of criteria for collateral that banks need to put up to take out loans from the central bank.
But dark clouds were on the horizon due to forecasts of a grim US jobs situation when its non-farm payrolls report is issued on Friday, Phillip Futures' report warned.
"Market expectations are for an anaemic rise of around 90,000 new jobs leaving the unemployment rate unchanged at 8.2 percent and creating the weakest quarter for jobs growth since the middle of 2010," it stated.