By Sudarshan Varadhan
(Reuters) – Oil prices fell in early Asian trade on Monday after Israel said it had “ended” a series of attacks in southern Gaza, slightly easing concerns about supplies from the Middle East. Have gone.
Brent crude futures were down 43 cents, or 0.5%, at $81.76 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were down 46 cents, or 0.6%, at $76.38 a barrel at 0135 GMT.
Geopolitical risks, including fears of an escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict across the region and potential oil supply disruption in the Middle East, pushed prices up nearly 6% last week.
The Israeli military said on Monday that it had launched “a series of attacks” on southern Gaza that had now “ended”, days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a ceasefire proposal from Hamas.
While supply concerns remained relatively elevated in the Middle East, news from the US eased some concerns.
U.S. energy companies added oil and natural gas rigs to the highest level since mid-December, potentially signaling an increase in output. Domestic production returned to a record 13.3 million barrels per day (bpd) last week.
Demand concerns remain, as a Federal Reserve official said he has no interest in recommending an interest rate cut, increasing calls for further curbs on inflation. Higher interest rates slow economic growth, which curbs demand for oil.
Business in Asia is expected to be lower as most regions including China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia are closed for holidays.
Mainland China’s financial markets are closed for the Lunar New Year holidays and will resume trading on Monday, February 19. Trading in Hong Kong will resume on February 14.
(Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by Sonali Paul)