SINGAPORE, Jan 3, 2008 (AFP) – World oil prices eased in Asian trading on Thursday after briefly hitting 100 dollars a barrel for the first time, jolting oil-dependent economies. In morning trade, New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for February delivery, was 43 cents lower at 99.19 dollars a barrel.

The contract closed 3.64 dollars higher at a record 99.62 dollars in New York on Wednesday after briefly touching a record 100 dollars.

Its previous all-time intraday high was 99.29 dollars on November 21, followed by an all-time closing peak of 96.55 dollars on November 23.

Brent North Sea crude for February was 64 cents lower at 97.20.

In London on Wednesday, the contract soared 3.99 dollars to settle at a record 97.84 dollars per barrel after hitting an intraday historic high of 98 dollars.

The records came on the first trading day of the new year.

“It’s going to have a huge impact on overall global inflation,” said Steve Rowles, a commodities strategist with CFC Seymour securities in Hong Kong.

He said the immediate trigger boosting prices above the psychologically important 100-dollar level appeared to be violence in Africa’s biggest