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CORRECTED-Brent stays above $106; Libya ports restart eyed
April 4, 2014 / 2:46 AM / in 4 years

CORRECTED-Brent stays above $106; Libya ports restart eyed

(Corrects third paragraph to say up 2 cents, not down)

* Libya sees “good intentions” in oil port talks

* Russia hikes gas prices for Ukraine by 80 pct

* Coming up: U.S. nonfarm payrolls March; 1230 GMT

By Florence Tan

SINGAPORE, April 4 (Reuters) - Brent crude held above $106 a barrel on Friday, on track for its biggest weekly fall in three months, on a potential rise in Libyan oil supply as major ports could open in days.

Libya has seen evidence of “good intentions” at indirect talks with eastern rebels which could lead to the lifting of their 8-month blockage, although divisions in the rebel camp may complicate matters.

May Brent crude was at $106.17 a barrel, up 2 cents, by 0227 GMT on track for a weekly loss of more than 1 percent, the biggest since the week ended Jan. 3.

U.S. crude for May delivery nudged up 7 cents to $100.36 a barrel. Front-month prices are set to post their first weekly loss in three weeks.

The restart of Libya’s eastern oil ports could release about 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude, bumping up the OPEC producer’s output from around 150,000 bpd, but still far from the 1.4 million bpd it produced in July.

“It’s quite a sensitive development for the market because of its immediate impact,” said Ric Spooner, chief analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney.

“Depending how it’s resolved, we might see Libya’s production going up quite soon or not. It creates a difficult situation for traders to respond to.”

Simmering tensions between Russia and the west over Ukraine provided a floor to oil prices.

Russia raised the gas price for Ukraine on Thursday for the second time this week, almost doubling it in three days and piling pressure on a neighbour on the brink of bankruptcy in the crisis over Crimea.

Global markets awaited key jobs data from the United States to assess the health of the world’s largest economy and its fuel demand.

“The general expectation is that we will see jobs growth starting to get back on trend after winter,” Spooner said. “The market will take some comfort if it happens.”

The U.S. trade deficit unexpectedly widened in February as exports hit a five-month low, suggesting first-quarter growth could be much weaker than initially anticipated.

“I see the U.S. economy continuing its trend of growth and it’s obviously an important factor for world oil demand,” Spooner said. (Reporting by Florence Tan; Editing by Michael Perry)

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