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Oil prices slip Below $70 a Barrel - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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SINGAPORE, (AP) – Oil prices recovered slightly in Asian trading Monday, but remained below $70 a barrel after falling to a 10-week low in the previous session.

Light, sweet crude for October delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 6 cents to $69.24 a barrel in electronic trading midmorning in Singapore. The contract fell $1.07 Friday to close at $69.19 a barrel — its lowest settlement price since finishing at $68.94 on June 20.

Nymex floor trading was closed Monday for the Labor Day holiday in the U.S.

The front-month crude contract on London’s ICE Futures exchange rose 6 cents to $69.21 a barrel.

Crude futures declined Friday as Iran’s defiance of the U.N. request to stop its nuclear enrichment program didn’t lead to immediate sanctions, analysts said.

Also easing energy prices was a mixed U.S. jobs report, which suggested fuel demand probably won’t surge sharply, and a more-subdued forecast for this year’s hurricane season.

Iran, OPEC’s second-largest producer behind Saudi Arabia, defied the U.N. Security Council’s Thursday deadline to halt its nuclear program. Traders have been worried that Iran might block oil exports if punished by the United Nations. But at this point, American officials and others say no action will be sought before a key European diplomat meets with Tehran’s atomic energy chief next week to seek a compromise.

U.N. chief Kofi Annan said Sunday after meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Iran’s leader wants negotiations on the country’s nuclear program but will not halt uranium enrichment ahead of talks.

Gasoline futures dropped 0.14 cent to $1.7330 a gallon while natural gas prices rose 15.3 cents to $6.03 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Hurricane forecaster William Gray’s team on Friday downgraded for the second time its expectations for the 2006 Atlantic storm season. The team, based at Colorado State University, called for a slightly below-average year, with only five hurricanes instead of the seven previously forecast.

Last year, hurricanes Katrina and Rita showed just how vulnerable oil and natural platforms and pipelines are to powerful storms, and how severe flooding along the Gulf Coast was capable of shutting down oil refineries and natural-gas processing plants. The region’s fuel production declined for months, tightening supplies and sending prices higher.