Oil prices rebounded on bargain-hunting in Asia on Wednesday following sharp losses in the previous session that were stoked by easing Middle East supply concerns, analysts said.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for August delivery rose 36 cents to $100.32 while Brent crude for August was up 15c at $106.17 in late-morning trade.
WTI fell 95c in New York to $99.96, the first time it closed below the $100 mark since May 9, while Brent fell 96c in London to hit its lowest level since April 7.
Singapore’s United Overseas Bank said prices remained under pressure “as investors eased up on worries about Iraq supply disruptions while there were indications that Libya’s oil production is returning”.
Iraq’s sharply divided parliament elected a speaker on Tuesday in a step forward in the delayed government formation process, as a renewed bid to recapture Tikrit from a jihadist-led militant offensive ended in retreat.
The offensive has not reached southern Iraq, home to the bulk of the country’s oil industry.
Prospects of a revival in Libyan crude exports to a global market already flush with supply also capped prices, as investors brushed aside reports of fresh violence in the North African state on Sunday.
Libya’s interim Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thani declared this month that authorities had regained control of two export terminals blockaded by rebels demanding autonomy in the country’s eastern region.
The ports at Ras Lanuf and Al-Sidra could add about 500 000 barrels of crude per day to global energy markets, analysts say.
Dealers are also eyeing the latest US supply report out later on Wednesday for clues about demand in the world’s top crude consumer in the middle of the summer driving season.
Crude reserves are expected to have fallen 2.6 million barrels in the week to July 11, according to analysts polled by the Wall Street Journal.
A decline in inventories typically indicates strong demand, sending prices higher.
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