Oil prices lower in Asian trade

Oil prices lower in Asian trade

World oil prices were slightly lower in Asian trade on Monday after fresh unrest in Africa’s biggest crude producer, Nigeria.

New York’s main oil futures contract, light sweet crude for June delivery, was 13 cents lower at 116.19 dollars per barrel.

The benchmark contract rallied 3.80 dollars to close at 116.32 dollars on Friday at the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent North Sea crude for June was 17 cents lower at 114.39. The contract jumped 4.06 dollars to settle at 114.56 on Friday in London.

“There has not been much movement in oil since prices rose strongly on Friday night,” said David Moore, a commodity strategist at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Sydney.

“In the next couple of days, oil prices will remain relatively firm,” he said. “The recent news flow is likely to be supportive of expectations in the oil markets.”

Nigerian militants attacked an oil ship off the coast of the west African country and took two people hostage, a military spokesman said Sunday.

The incident came after militants attacked facilities belonging to Anglo-Dutch oil group Shell in southern Nigeria, leading to a cut in output, company and security sources said.

Shell, which accounts for around half of Nigeria’s 2.1 million barrels per day output, has been forced to cut production because of an upsurge in militant attacks on its facilities.

Oil rallied close to a record 120 dollars a barrel last week on supply concerns linked to work-stoppages at a Scottish refinery and in Nigeria.

With the strikes resolved, crude prices were largely driven by movement in the US dollar, according to analysts.

News that the US economy shed 20,000 jobs in April, far fewer than the 75,000 expected by the market, helped lift sentiment on Friday, they said.

The unemployment rate unexpectedly slipped a tenth of a percentage point to 5.0 percent, the US Labor Department said, compared with an expected rise to 5.2 percent.

Analysts said the better-than-expected labor report showed the world’s biggest energy consumer was hurting but not in crisis.

World oil prices also rose Friday after Turkish bombing raids targeted Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, which is home to some of that country’s oil facilities.


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