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Oil market firm before US energy report

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

World oil prices edged higher Wednesday in cautious trading and dealmakers monitored the latest newsflow from Ukraine and the Middle East, ahead of the weekly US inventories report.

Israel's operation against Hamas in Gaza continued to cause tensions, however, as UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged an end to the conflict that has entered its 16th day.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in September climbed 30 cents to stand at $107.63 a barrel nearing midday in London.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for September gained just five cents to $102.44 a barrel compared with Tuesday's closing value.

Investors are eagerly awaiting the US Department of Energy's report on crude inventories for the week ending July 18.

American oil reserves are expected to have tumbled by 2.5 million barrels, according to analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.

That would indicate strengthening demand for oil in the United States, which is the world's biggest consumer of crude.

Oil prices fell modestly on Tuesday despite geopolitical tensions over war-torn Ukraine and a raging battle in the Gaza Strip.

Tensions have eased since news that pro-Russian rebels had handed over the black boxes from the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet that came down in eastern Ukraine, killing almost 300 people.

With the US blaming Moscow-backed separatist rebels for the incident, there are fears that an escalation of the conflict and tit-for-tat sanctions could affect supplies from Russia, the world's second-biggest crude producer.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131222/swatch-wins-compensation-tiffanys-contract-row