By Chua Baizhen
Price bolstered by supply concerns in Nigeria and ongoing spat between Venezuela and US oil giant, Exxon Mobil.
Oil steadied on Tuesday as the market grappled with worries over an economic slowdown in the US and supply concerns from Venezuela and Nigeria.
US light crude for March delivery was down 16 cents at $95.95 a barrel by 0126 GMT on the Globex electronic trading platform, from $96.11 at 1812 GMT.
The New York Mercantile Exchange was closed on Monday because of a US national holiday.
A row between Opec member Venezuela and oil major Exxon Mobil, and fears of new supply disruptions from Nigeria lifted oil to its fourth straight day of gains on Monday.
But analysts said lingering concerns over a possible recession in the US, the world's top oil consumer, would weigh down prices this week.
"Price should be choppy to lower this week, although sentiment remains mixed on Opec and Venezuelan oil cutbacks versus a US recession," Mark Pervan, senior commodity strategist at ANZ Research, said in a note.
Economic data from the US last week showed that the mood of American consumers deteriorated in February to a point that could signal a recession.
US data also suggested bubbling price pressures, raising the possibility of stagflation -- simultaneously slowing growth and rising inflation.
This week will see the release of U.S. consumer inflation data and housing starts on Wednesday.
"Economic worries or no, oil prices were due for a correction which we believe is underway despite the recent move back above $90 a barrel," JPMorgan analyst Katherine Spector said in a research note.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday the state could sue Exxon for unpaid oil taxes, but a senior executive told Reuters in an interview on Monday that the company was ready to talk to the government to settle the dispute.
Venezuela, one of the largest crude exporters to the US, cut shipments to Exxon last week after the firm won a $12 billion freeze of Venezuelan assets to ensure compensation for an oil project Chavez nationalised last year.
Oil producers in the Middle East had assured the US that they could compensate for a supply disruption if Venezuela slows exports.
Top world oil exporter Saudi Arabia was confident that it will reach a target to lift crude oil output capacity, a top executive from the country's state oil firm said on Monday. (Reuters)