Oil prices steady
SINGAPORE – Oil prices were little changed in thin trade on Friday, with investors focusing on talks aimed at averting a Greek debt default.
Brent crude for August delivery was up 19 cents at $63.39 a barrel by 0334 GMT after ending the previous session down 29 cents, or 0.5 percent.
US crude for delivery in August slipped 6 cents to $59.64 a barrel after finishing Thursday down 57 cents, almost 1 percent.
“Traders and investors are very much on tenterhooks on the outcome (of talks on Greece),” said Ben Le Brun, a market analyst at OptionsXpress in Sydney.
Euro zone finance ministers are due to meet on Saturday in a last-ditch attempt to clinch a deal with Greece to avoid a debt default by Athens and possibly a Greek exit from the euro.
Greece failed to finalise a cash-for-reform pact in the latest round of talks with lenders on Thursday.
“Negative sentiment stemming from ample U.S. crude inventory and record production weighed on investors (after oil prices fell on Thursday),” ANZ analysts said in a note on Friday.
“Price volatility slipped to the lowest in the past seven months.”
U.S. crude, also known as West Texas Intermediate, faces pressure from a larger-than-expected build in gasoline and distillate stocks last week, Le Brun said. But he noted that Greece would be Asian traders’ main focus on Friday.
“The market is looking to the weekend at the euro zone meetings now. There is a lot to play for this weekend.”
The market was also watching talks between Iran and six world powers to see whether there would be an agreement on Tehran’s nuclear programme by the June 30 deadline.
“Prices continue to stay within range and (we) do not think that this range would shift until next Tuesday, the deadline for Iranian nuclear negotiations,” Phillip Futures said in a research note.
WTI and Brent should find support at $59 and $62.38, with resistance at $61.8 and $65, the note said.
“With prices being at support, it seems prices should move higher for today. However, even if prices do move upwards, we expect to see them stop at the resistance levels mentioned,” the note added. – Reuters