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Oil climbs as Gaza tensions rise, Saudi Arabia hikes prices

by Business News Report

Oil futures rose on Monday after Saudi Arabia hiked June crude prices for most regions and as the prospect of a quick agreement for a Gaza ceasefire deal appeared slim, reviving fears that combat between Hamas and Israeli forces will resume soon. Brent crude futures were up 69 cents, or 0.84%, at $83.65 a barrel while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at $78.89 a barrel, up 78 cents, or 1%.

Last week, both futures contracts posted their steepest weekly loss in three months, with Brent falling more than 7% and WTI down 6.8%, as investors weighed weak U.S. jobs data and the possible timing of a Federal Reserve interest rate cut. Prospect for for a Gaza ceasefire faded as Hamas reiterated its demand for an end to the war in exchange for the freeing of hostages and Israel appeared poised to launch a long-threatened assault in the southern Gaza Strip. On Monday, Israel’s military called on Palestinian civilians to Evacuate Rafah as part of a “limited-scope” operation. “Markets are a little jaded about geopolitical risk from the war,” said John Kilduff, partner with Again Capital. “I think you’re going to have to see more kinetic activity to move the markets,”

News that talks were continuing between Hamas and Israel despite failure to reach agreement over the weekend, also tempered market reactions on Monday, Kilduff said. Also supporting oil was Saudi Arabia’s move to raise the official selling prices for its crude sold to Asia, Northwest Europe and the Mediterranean in June, signalling expectations of strong demand this summer. In China, the world’s largest crude importer, service activity remained in expansionary territory for the 16th straight month, while growth in new orders accelerated and business sentiment rose solidly, boosting hopes of a sustained economic recovery.

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