Oil prices mixed ahead of US Fed meeting

16th December 2013, Comments 0 comments

Global oil prices rose on Monday as investors focused on the US Federal Reserve's policy meeting this week for clues about its long-awaited stimulus pullback.

Further support was provided by simmering tensions in crude producer Libya, analysts said.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in January, added 47 cents to $97.07 a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for January gained $1.10 to stand at $109.93 a barrel in London.

"Investors mainly are waiting to hear the (Fed's) assessment of the strength of the US economy, and how that will affect plans for the ... stimulus programme," Fat Prophets analyst David Lennox told AFP.

Markets are waiting to see if the US central bank will on Wednesday announce a cut to its $85 billion-a-month stimulus package following a string of upbeat economic data including a sharp fall in the US unemployment rate.

A so-called tapering of the programme would likely boost the greenback, making dollar-priced oil more expensive for countries using other currencies, dampening demand.

European benchmark Brent gained support after armed protesters in crude producer Libya on Sunday refused to lift a months-long blockade of vital oil terminals in the eastern part of the country.

A tribal chief last week had said that the blockade would be lifted on December 15.

The protests, as well as blockades of fuel deliveries by the Berber minority, have slashed Libya's output to about 250,000 barrels per day, from normal levels of nearly 1.5 million.

"News from Libya that the rebels are not willing to hand the export terminals in the east of the country back over to the government is lending support to Brent," said analysts at Commerzbank in a note to clients.

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© 2013 AFP

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