Oil Fluctuates Amid Concerns Over Kurdish Referendum--Update
By Neanda Salvaterra
Oil prices fluctuated Friday as investors considered the potential fallout from the independence referendum in the oil-rich Kurdish region of Iraq.
Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, fell 0.10% to $57.35 a barrel on London's ICE Futures exchange. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate futures were trading up 0.04% at $51.58 a barrel.
"We have had a bull rally in oil since late June and then it got an additional spark forward from the Kurdish referendum," said Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodities analyst at SEB Markets. "It's the first time since 2014 that geopolitical risk has impacted the oil price."
Brent remained about $2 below the two-year high it achieved on Monday after the referendum when it hit its highest settlement since July 2015 and closed at $59.02 a barrel.
Kurdish voters overwhelmingly cast their ballot in favor of independence from Iraq on Monday.
The vote result may trigger a hostile response from Iraq's central government, as well as from neighboring countries and disrupt the flow of as much as 500,000 barrels a day of Kurdish oil exported through a Turkish port.
Baghdad has called on other countries to stop buying oil from the Kurds and has given the region until Friday to surrender control of its airports or face a forced shutdown of international flights.
The Kurdish referendum has also rankled Iran and Turkey as both have Kurdish minorities and fear the referendum could bolster claims for autonomy by militant Kurdish separatists in their regions.