Singapore – Oil prices were mixed in Asian trade on Friday, although they were given a measure of support by lingering concerns over tensions in Ukraine and Libya.
The US benchmark, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in July, fell 2 cents to $103.72 per barrel in mid-morning trade. Brent North Sea crude for July delivery gained 2c to $110.38.
French bank Credit Agricole said “a quiet market is expected ahead of the weekend”, with investors keeping an eye on US new home sales data out later on Friday.
Desmond Chua, an analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore, said there are expectations the data will show a “rebound from last month’s weak reading”.
“With construction activity, building permits and housing starts on a rise, we could see a turnaround in the next few months, even if today’s figures were to disappoint,” he said.
New home sales are seen as one of the key indicators of the health of the US economy.
Traders remain concerned about possible supply disruptions arising from the crises in Ukraine and Libya.
Pro-Russian rebels killed 17 Ukrainian soldiers in the country’s eastern belt Thursday, escalating tensions ahead of a national election this weekend.
Washington and its European allies supporting Ukraine’s Western-friendly government have accused Russia of fomenting unrest in the country, allegations Moscow denies.
A full-blown armed conflict in the ex-Soviet state could disrupt supplies and send energy prices rocketing, analysts say.
A renegade Libyan general’s bid to rid the country of Islamists has also alarmed oil investors fearing a further crippling of the embattled North African state’s output, which has been stunted until recently due to blockades by rebels.