Oil prices mixed in Asian trade


SINGAPORE: Oil prices were mixed in Asia on Monday as dealers balance easing concerns about the jihadist insurgency in Iraq with upbeat sentiment about US demand following strong jobs data, analysts said.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for August delivery eased 12 cents to $103.94 while Brent crude rose nine cents to $110.73 in afternoon trade.

Desmond Chua, market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore, said oil prices “continue to track lower as Iraq’s production remains unaffected by the recent unrest.”

The rebel group has overrun swathes of Iraq and is close to Baghdad following a lightning offensive since June 9, displacing hundreds of thousands of people and initially alarming global oil markets.

After nearly four weeks of fighting with government forces, however, the group has yet to directly threaten the key oil-producing region in the country’s south.

Iraq is the second biggest producer in the 12-nation Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries oil cartel, pumping 3.4 million barrels a day and possessing more than 11 percent of the world’s proven reserves.

Chua said markets are “raring to go” following robust US jobs data last week showing the US economy added 288,000 jobs in June, well above expectations of 215,000. The unemployment rate also fell to 6.1 percent from 6.3 percent in May.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 17,000 for the first time on Thursday after the solid jobs data release. US markets were closed Friday for the Independence Day holiday.

Chua said investors would next be looking to minutes from the US Federal Reserve’s June meeting to be released on Wednesday for clues about the strength of the world’s biggest economy.



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