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Crude oil prices ease on US crude stockpile, rate concerns in focus

22 Apr 2024 8:24 am
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Mumbai, 22 Apr (Commoditiescontrol): Crude oil prices eased at Asia's open on Monday, dragged down by a renewed focus on market fundamentals, as Israel and Iran played down the risks of an escalation of hostilities in the Middle East after Israel's apparently small strike on Iran.

Brent futures fell 54 cents, or 0.6%, to $86.75 a barrel. The front month U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude contract for May , which expires on Monday, fell 12 cents to $83.02 a barrel. The more active June contract dropped 47 cents, or 0.6%, to $81.75 a barrel.

On Friday, Chicago Federal Reserve President Austan Goolsbee became the latest central banker to signal a longer timeline for interest rate cuts because progress on inflation had "stalled".

U.S. crude inventories rose by 2.7 million barrels, Energy Information Administration data showed last week. The increase was nearly double analysts' expectations of a 1.4 million barrel rise.

Last week, both oil benchmarks posted their biggest weekly loss since February after Iran downplayed reports of a presumed retaliatory Israeli air strike on its territory and said it did not plan to respond. Prices retreated on the news after initially spiking more than $3 a barrel.

On Saturday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an aid package for Ukraine and Israel containing measures that would let the federal government expand sanctions against Iran and its oil production. But markets shrugged off the news as the impact of the measures, if passed, would depend on how they are interpreted and implemented.

Senate consideration of the bill is set to begin on Tuesday.

Iran is the third largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), according to Reuters data. Despite a wide range of existing U.S. sanctions, its oil shipments have increased due to demand from China and networks outside the U.S. financial system.

On Saturday, a blast at an Iraqi military base killed a member of a security force that includes Iran-backed groups. The force commander said it was an attack while the army said it was investigating.

Separately, on Sunday, Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah said it downed an Israeli drone that was on a combat mission in southern Lebanon.

Israeli forces and Lebanon's armed group Hezbollah have been exchanging fire for over six months in parallel to the Gaza war, fuelling concerns about further escalation.

(By Commoditiescontrol Bureau: 09820130172)

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