Oil prices edge higher as traders monitor Middle East conflict

Oil futures edged higher Tuesday, attempting to bounce after worries about China’s property sector and other concerns sent crude prices falling despite a significant escalation of Middle East tensions following a weekend drone attack that killed three U.S. troops in Jordan.

Price moves

  • West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery


    rose 23 cents, or 0.3%, to $77.01 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

  • March Brent crude
    the global benchmark, was up 3 cents, or less than 0.1%, at $82.43 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe. April Brent

    the more actively traded contract, was up 6 cents, or 0.1%, at $81.89 a barrel.

Market drivers

Oil futures slumped more than 1% Monday, pulling back from their highest levels since November, as worries over China’s economy and other concerns around the demand outlook sparked pressure. The downside remains limited though due to concerns around a potential intensification of fighting in the Middle East that could threaten crude flows.

“In energy, crude oil remains upbeat after last week’s positive price breakout above the $75 [a barrel] and the rising tensions in the Red Sea region as everyone is now expecting the U.S. response to the latest attacks,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank, in a Tuesday note.

WTI saw resistance near the $80 a barrel level on Monday and could see consolidation between $78 and $80 a barrel before a potential breakout back above $80, she said.

Meanwhile, state producer Saudi Aramco on Tuesday said it won’t try to boost its maximum daily oil production to 13 million barrels a day after receiving an order from the country’s energy ministry. The company, formally known as the Saudi Arabian Oil Co.
said it would maintain maximum output at 12 million barrels a day.

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