(Repeats to add oil price codes)
* Violence continues between Palestinians and Israelis ahead
of truce talks
* U.S. Federal Reserve chief warns budget impasse is
* Coming Up: U.S. EIA oil inventory data; 1530 GMT
By Jessica Jaganathan
SINGAPORE, Nov 21 Brent crude rose above $110
per barrel on Wednesday on fears of supply disruption from the
Middle East as clashes raged between Palestinians and Israelis
despite overnight truce talks.
But gains in prices were capped by worries over oil demand,
especially after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke
warned that a failure to resolve a budget crisis could lead to
recession in the world's biggest crude consumer.
Fresh concerns about Europe's economy also weighed on prices
a day after Moody's stripped France of its prized triple-A
badge, citing uncertainty about the fiscal and economic outlook
of the euro zone's second-largest economy.
Brent crude futures gained 32 cents to $110.15 a
barrel by 0314 GMT, recouping some of the previous session's
losses. U.S. crude increased by 30 cents to $87.05.
"There are opposing forces where the uncertainty in Europe
and the United States meets with the bullish uncertainty in the
Middle East, ... so I think we're going to see a volatile
market," said Jeremy Friesen, commodity strategist at Societe
Generale in Hong Kong.
"We're going to see some crazy volatility in the market with
rising geopolitics and rising economic uncertainty. The Middle
East tensions could continue to give prices some life in the
near term but we suspect that the bearish economic factors will
MIDEAST VIOLENCE, FEARS OF FISCAL CLIFF
Israeli air strikes shook the Gaza Strip and Palestinian
rockets struck across the border as U.S. Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton held talks in Jerusalem in the early hours of
Wednesday, seeking a truce to hold back Israel's ground troops.
Hamas, the Islamist movement controlling Gaza, and Egypt,
whose new, Islamist government is trying to broker a truce, had
floated hopes for a ceasefire by late Tuesday; but by the time
Clinton met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu it was
clear there would be more argument, and more violence, first.
The violence in the Middle East adds to investors' worries
about the economic outlook for the United States.
Fed chief Bernanke said 2013 could be a "very good year" for
the U.S. economy if politicians can strike a quick deal to avoid
the so-called fiscal cliff of spending cuts and tax hikes.
Recent U.S. housing and oil inventory data, however, helped
U.S. housing starts rose to their highest in more than four
years in October, suggesting the housing market recovery was
U.S. crude oil inventory tumbled last week due to a drop in
imports, data from the American Petroleum Institute released on
Tuesday showed. Total U.S. crude stocks fell by more than 1.9
million barrels in the week to Nov. 16, after analysts polled by
Reuters had forecast a build of 900,000 barrels.
The market will now await data from the U.S. Energy
Information Administration (EIA), due at 1530 GMT on Wednesday,
for confirmation of the API report.
(Editing by Miral Fahmy)