UPDATE 8-Brent oil hit by profit-taking but supported by Egypt

Mon Aug 19, 2013 4:11pm EDT

Related Topics

* Libyan oil exports near lowest since 2011 civil war

* Investors fear Egypt unrest could spread, affect supply

* Goldman Sachs sees Brent rising to around $115 near term

* Coming up: API data Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. EDT (2030 GMT

* Coming Up: EIA data, Fed policy minutes on Wednesday (Adds details, updates to settlement prices.)

By Jeanine Prezioso

NEW YORK, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Oil prices ended the day slightly lower in lackluster trading on Monday as light profit-taking pressured prices but unrest in Egypt and the loss of Libyan oil exports put a floor under them.

Brent crude oil futures for October delivery settled 50 cents lower at $109.90 per barrel after trading as high as $111. Brent rose to a four-month high of $111.53 on Aug. 15.

Brent pressured oil products such as gasoline and ultra-low sulfur diesel lower late in the session, brokers said.

U.S. gasoline futures settled 3.4 cents lower at $2.93 a gallon. U.S. heating oil futures ended more than one cent lower at $3.07.

U.S. crude oil futures for September settled 36 cents lower at $107.10 per barrel. The September contract expires at the end of trading on Tuesday. October oil futures ended the day 43 cents lower at $106.86.

Traders were taking a "wait-and-see" approach ahead of the September contract expiration, said Andy Lebow, vice president at Jefferies Bache.

Traders were also paying attention to the spread between September and October futures CLU3-V3 as an indicator of whether the market thinks inventories have been drawn down at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery point for the U.S. oil futures contract.

"The spread's been under a lot of pressure," Lebow said.

U.S. commercial crude inventories likely fell last week by 1.4 million barrels, an initial poll of Reuters analysts showed, ahead of the release of weekly data.

Industry group API is set to release its stockpile report on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. EDT (2030 GMT). The U.S. Energy Information Administration issues its data on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT).

MIDDLE EAST UNREST

Libya's oil production and exports have been crippled by violence and strikes, pushing exports to the lowest since the 2011 civil war, although one of the country's smaller ports was reported to have reopened on Monday.

At least 850 people have died in Egypt since Wednesday in clashes pitting the followers of deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi against the army-backed government.

Egypt is not a major oil producer, but investors worry that unrest there could spread throughout the Middle East, which pumps more than a third of the world's oil.

Egypt is home to the Suez Canal and the Suez-Mediterranean (Sumed) pipeline, which together carry around 4.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil from the Red Sea.

The Egyptian army has said it will guarantee the safety of the Suez Canal and the Sumed pipeline, but any disruption to supplies could have a dramatic impact on the oil market.

Goldman Sachs said on Monday it expected tighter oil markets to propel Brent to $115 "in the very near term".

Easing some supply fears, crude flows resumed through a pipeline from Iraq's Kirkuk oil fields to Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, Iraqi oil officials said on Sunday.

FED STIMULUS

Investors remain cautious as they await more clues on when the U.S. Federal Reserve will start scaling back its economic stimulus program, which has helped bolster asset prices such as oil over the last three years.

Minutes on Wednesday from the Fed's last policy meeting will provide some clues on when it will start reducing stimulus, which could boost the dollar.

Fears of supply disruption eased in the United States with BP Plc saying on Sunday it could start returning offshore workers to its deepwater Gulf of Mexico oil and gas facilities after a tropical storm had dissipated.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc said it shut units at its joint-venture 600,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Motiva refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, on Saturday following a fire. (Additional reporting by Christopher Johnson in London and Jessica Jaganathan in Singapore; Editing by Keiron Henderson, John Wallace and Peter Galloway)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

A tourist takes a plunge as she swims at Ngapali Beach, a popular tourist site, in the Thandwe township of the Rakhine state, October 6, 2013. Picture taken October 6, 2013. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun (MYANMAR - Tags: SOCIETY) - RTR3FOI0

Where do you want to go?

We look at when to take trips, budget considerations and the popularity of multigenerational family travel.   Video