Oil mixed amid bargain-hunting
SINGAPORE: Crude was mixed in Asian trade Thursday as bargain-hunters moved in to capitalise on the recent slide in prices, although concerns over Greece’s political future continued to weigh.
New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for delivery in June was up 73 cents to $93.54 per barrel while Brent North Sea crude for July shed five cents to $109.70 in the afternoon.
“Oil prices are holding relatively steady after the recent losses over Greece,” said Victor Shum, senior principal at Purvin and Gertz international energy consultants in Singapore.
“WTI is primarily rebounding because there is a sense in the market that the decline in oil has been too fast and so we are seeing some buying,” he added.
Greece has sworn in a senior judge as caretaker prime minister after talks between political parties failed to produce a coalition government, forcing fresh polls amid fears that the debt-crippled country could leave the eurozone.
The new polls — set for June 17 — follow an inconclusive election on May 6 when a majority of Greeks voted against harsh austerity measures Athens took on in return for a huge EU-IMF bailout late last year.
News that about 700 million euros ($890 million) had been withdrawn from Greek banks on Monday also stoked tensions.
The market has largely shrugged off pledges by top European leaders, including European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi, to keep Greece in the 17-nation eurozone.
Across the Atlantic, official crude inventory data released by the US Department of Energy on Wednesday also added to the bearish sentiment, analysts said.
Data showed US crude oil reserves soared by 2.1 million barrels in the week ending May 11, well above expectations, indicating faltering demand in the world’s top oil-consuming economy.