Oil prices drift lower in Asia

TOKYO: Oil prices dipped in Asian trade Monday ahead of the release of US economic growth and jobs data later in the week, while investors track events in Ukraine and the crude-rich Middle East.

The US benchmark futures contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for September, dipped 51 cents to $101.58 a barrel.Brent North Sea crude for September delivery was down 43 cents at $107.96 a barrel.

Investors are also looking to a US Federal Reserve policy meeting this week for a snapshot on the state of the world’s number one economy.The US is the world’s top oil consuming nation and demand in the country for the commodity tends to impact prices.

“As the Singapore market is closed, Asian trade is quiet today, with the focus on the Fed meeting” and geopolitical developments, said Yusuke Seta a broker at Newedge in Tokyo.

In London Friday, Brent prices surged on geopolitical concerns.Brent tends to react more dramatically to international risks than WTI, which responds mostly to the forces of supply and demand in the United States.

Analysts warn the euro zone economy could be hurt by any fresh sanctions on Russia for its support of anti-government rebels in Ukraine,. who have been accused of shooting down Malaysia Airlines MH17 on July 17.

Because of heavy shelling in the area observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have been unable to access the site where the plane came down, killing 298 people.

On Sunday, Russia accused the US of hindering the OSCE’s work in Ukraine, while the Netherlands scrapped plans for an armed international mission to secure the area.

Moscow has accused the US of supporting Kiev against separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine and of “sharing the responsibility of spilt blood” in the conflict.US President Barack Obama has called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, after Israel and Hamas ignored calls for a truce and the raging conflict entered its third week Monday.

Source : APP