Oil inches up after Washington hard talk on Iran

Both benchmarks ended last week down about 7%. They fell 2% on Friday after stronger-than-expected US jobs data suggested interest rate cuts could be further out than expected, and on progress in ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas.

″Hopes of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas drove some of this weakness,″ ING analysts said in a note.

″However, for now, a ceasefire does not appear imminent.″

Investors remained wary of any escalation in the Middle East conflict, after the US signalled further strikes on Iran-backed groups in the Middle East in response to a deadly attack on US troops in Jordan.

The US also continued its campaign against the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen, with 36 strikes on Saturday against the groups whose attacks on shipping vessels have disrupted global oil trading routes, although supply has been largely unaffected.

″Given the US military strikes avoid directly attacking Iran, we think the Israel-Hamas ceasefire talks will have the more dominant effect — thereby reducing Middle-East tensions,″ said Commonwealth Bank commodities analyst Vivek Dhar.

″Oil markets will likely respond by continuing to discount supply disruption risks in the Middle East,″ he said in a client note on Monday, adding that would likely keep Brent futures below $80 a barrel.

On Friday, the US department of justice announced sanctions-evasion charges and seizures linked to an oil-trafficking network that it says finances Iran′s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

It seized more than 520,000 barrels of sanctioned Iranian oil aboard the crude tanker Abyss, which had been anchored in the Yellow Sea en route to China.

Iran′s budget targets oil sales of 1.35-million barrels per day (bpd) for the Iranian year starting March 2024, about 1.3% of the 103.5-million bpd global supply forecasted by the International Energy Agency.

In Russia, two Ukrainian attack drones struck the largest oil refinery in the country′s south on Saturday, a source in Kyiv said, the latest in a series of long-range attacks on Russian oil facilities which has reduced Russia′s exports of naphtha, a petrochemical feedstock.

Lukoil, which owns the 300,000 bpd  Volgograd refinery, later said the plant was working as normal.

In the US, power at BP′s 435,000 bpd oil refinery in Whiting, Indiana, had been restored by midday on Friday, but sources said BP had not yet set a date for restarting the plant.


Source: businesslive.co.za