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Oil Buoyed by Geopolitical Concerns

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11/10/2017 | 05:11pm CEST
By Sarah McFarlane 

Oil prices fluctuated between slight gains and losses on Friday, after having soared over the past week after top exporter Saudi Arabia detained hundreds of individuals in a corruption investigation.

U.S. crude futures recently traded up 2 cents, or 0.03%, at $57.19 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, rose 14 cents, or 22%, to $64.07 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.

Saudi Arabia has detained 201 individuals including princes, businessmen and government officials after a three-year investigation estimated $100 billion of state funds had been embezzled. The actions helped push oil prices to more than two-year highs this week.

"Saudi Arabia is the second largest crude producer after Russia, it's the largest exporter and it's the country with the largest spare capacity, so obviously if in such an important oil nation something happens which you didn't expect at all, you start to price in a risk premium," said Giovanni Staunovo, analyst at UBS Wealth Management.

This follows a recent rise in geopolitical risks in other oil producers including Venezuela and Iraq, Mr. Staunovo said.

Some observers said oil's rally is likely to pick up steam again, buoyed by the volatile situation in Saudi Arabia, strong demand and shrinking inventories.

"We are still viewing this as a four-day pause in a strong bull market that is likely to be followed by fresh highs across the board within the next couple of sessions," Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch Associates, wrote in a research note.

Analysts said that investors were already pricing in an extension to ongoing production cuts from major producers working in concert with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

The group is due to meet on Nov. 30 when members are expected to discuss a potential nine-month extension to cuts implemented from January to help drain the global glut of oil supply. The current deal is due to expire in March 2018.

"The market is still convinced that OPEC will succeed in tightening the market to a sufficient extent by extending its production cuts," said Commerzbank in a daily note.

Any outcome from the meeting which is less than a nine-month extension could trigger a downward correction in prices, analysts warned.

Gasoline futures rose 0.36 cent, or 0.2%, to $1.8233 a gallon. Diesel futures fell 0.3 cent, or 0.15%, to $1.9439 a gallon.

Alison Sider contributed to this article.

Write to Sarah McFarlane at [email protected]

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