U.S. Crude Prices Fall as Another Storm Approaches
By Christopher Alessi
LONDON -- Oil prices were mixed Friday as investors waited to see the potential impact of Tropical Storm Nate on U.S. Gulf Coast oil infrastructure.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate futures fell 0.35% to $50.61 a barrel. Brent crude, the global benchmark, was up slightly, by 0.11%, at $57.06 a barrel in London midmorning trading on the InterContinental Exchange.
"As we come into the weekend, the market is focusing on the implications of Tropical Storm Nate and how big any disruptions will be" on crude production and refining capacity, said Richard Mallinson, an analyst at consultancy Energy Aspects.
As with Hurricane Harvey in August, the "tendency is for the focus to be more on refinery shutdowns, which is probably more positive for product prices and probably a little bearish for crude prices," Mr. Mallinson said.
The storm, which formed in Central America, is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane and potentially threaten the Gulf this weekend, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Meanwhile, oil prices posted gains Thursday for the first time in three days on the back of a meeting between Saudi King Salman and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
The two leaders discussed extending Russia's participation in a coalition led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries that has withheld almost 2% of global oil supply from the market in 2017, though no new agreement was struck.
"The landmark meeting in Moscow breathed new life into oil bulls" and "buoyed expectations that the two protagonists of a supply pact to curb production will push ahead with an extension through the end of 2018," said Stephen Brennock, an analyst at brokerage PVM Oil Associates Ltd.