Oil prices fall before Bernanke speech

26th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

Oil prices fell slightly on Friday as traders sat tight ahead of a key economic speech by Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke and growth data from the United States, the world's biggest oil consumer.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in October shed 37 cents to $110.25 in early London deals.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for October dropped 35 cents to $84.95 a barrel.

Bernanke's speech due at 1400 GMT at a central bankers' conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, will be closely read for clues on whether he will push for further measures to bolster the sagging US economy.

"We do not expect such an announcement, however, and oil prices could come under pressure as a result," said Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch.

"The price rally of past days was mainly due to the expectation of further liquidity (support)."

Prices have also found support this week from the unrest in oil-rich Libya whose output has virtually halted during the unrest there. Pockets of resistance from forces loyal to strongman Moamer Kadhafi remained in parts of the capital Tripoli on Friday.

Brent crude is more affected than WTI by the situation in Libya given that around 85 percent of Libyan oil output was exported to Europe until the revolt disrupted production six months ago.

Oil traders were also bracing for the impact of Hurricane Irene on refineries along the east coast of the United States.

"The US east coast is home to about 3.0-5.0 percent of the country's total refinery capacity and is the delivery hub for US-traded gasoline futures, so the hurricane should underpin crude prices in the near term," said Nick Trevethan, a senior commodities strategist with ANZ Research.


© 2011 AFP

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