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Crude-Oil Futures Steady in Asian Trading

Published: November 16, 2012 | 8:35 am
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Crude-oil futures were steady in Asian trading Friday with markets balanced between a weak global economic outlook and the increased risk of Mideast supply disruptions.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for delivery in December traded at $85.38 a barrel at 0616 GMT, down $0.07 in the Globex electronic session. January Brent crude on London’s ICE Futures exchange rose $0.13 to $108.14 a barrel.
Israelis and Palestinians are escalating their conflict, increasing the risk of disrupting oil supplies from the region.
Asian shares were mixed on Friday, as global investor sentiment remained fragile due to the approaching fiscal cliff in the U.S. Some clarity may be forthcoming later Friday, with congressional leaders meeting Barack Obama to discuss the president’s proposal to resolve the year-end fiscal crisis by raising tax rates on upper-income Americans.
Nymex crude slipped 1% on Thursday on the back of concerns over a growing oil inventory surplus in the U.S., which hit a three-year high last week. Brent, on the other hand, gained 1.3% in a rally that some analysts said was related to last-minute positioning as December contracts expired.
“This remains an extremely difficult trading environment, in which crude values remain trapped in a comparatively narrow range that is now into its fourth week,” oil consultancy Ritterbusch & Associates said in a note.
The spread between Nymex and Brent was back at $22.76 a barrel on Friday after it hit a 13-month high of $25.53 a barrel on Thursday. Brent has generally been trading at a $22-$23 premium to Nymex for the past month.
While Brent is more sensitive to Middle Eastern tensions, the spread between the two benchmarks is expected to ease, as operations at the major North Sea Buzzard oil field resumes following maintenance, Ritterbusch & Associates said.
Nymex reformulated gasoline blendstock for December–the benchmark gasoline contract–fell 84 points to $2.6878 a gallon, while December heating oil traded at $2.9720, 15 points lower.
ICE gasoil for December changed hands at $925.00 a metric ton, down $6.00 from Thursday’s settlement.

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