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SINGAPORE, Aug 21 (AFP) – Asia’s oil-guzzling economies are bracing themselves for the worst as crude prices threaten to hit 70 dollars a barrel, stoking fears of slower growth, soaring inflation and rising interest rates. SINGAPORE, Aug 21 (AFP) – Asia’s oil-guzzling economies are bracing themselves for the worst as crude prices threaten to hit 70 dollars a barrel, stoking fears of slower growth, soaring inflation and rising interest rates. Oil prices surged to an all-time high of 67.10 dollars a barrel on August 12, and while they have since pulled back to around 64 dollars, analysts said prices remain volatile due to strong demand and tight supplies.

The impact of rising prices varies across the region, with stronger economies like Japan, South Korea and Singapore expected to cope better than the poorer countries of Southeast and South Asia.

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo has ordered drastic steps to conserve energy, including reducing the number of vehicles in her own car convoy. Manila last year paid 4.57 billion US dollars for its oil imports.

“If we do not conserve, we will reach a point where the oil bill of the country is going to threaten the foreign exchange reserves,” said Philippines En