Brent oil rose on Thursday after news of the kidnapping of Libya’s prime minister raised concerns of new supply disruptions from the North African country.
Armed men seized Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan from a hotel in the country’s capital Tripoli and took him to an unknown location, the government said.
“Everybody is watching this, and I believe it can move the market. We still haven't seen any disruption to supply from Libya, so we don't expect a spike in prices,” said Ken Hasegawa, a commodity sales manager at Newedge Japan.
Libya’s oil output has risen to 700,000 barrels per day, after falling at mid-year to its lowest since the country's 2011 civil war as strikes, militias and political activists blocked most of the country’s oilfields and ports.
Since violence broke out, the government’s fledgling army and police force has struggled to deal with armed protesters.
“This kind of news shows the uncertainty over Libyan [oil supply],” said Hasegawa.
Brent futures were 48 cents higher at $109.54 per barrel at 5:07 GMT. The benchmark ended the previous session $1.10 lower, but had steadied just above $109 prior to news of the Libyan kidnapping.
U.S. oil was 22 cents higher at $101.83 per barrel.
Stockpiles, dollar weigh
Global oil prices sank on Wednesday after U.S. crude stocks rose by 6.8 million barrels in the week to October 4, well above forecasts by analysts for a 1.5 million barrel increase.
Over the past three weeks, crude stockpiles have increased by a total of 14.9 million barrels, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the biggest three-week increase since April 2012.
Uncertainty over the budget standoff in Washington continued to cloud the outlook for demand, although President Barack Obama launched a series of White House meetings with lawmakers to search for a way to end the impasse.
“The key thing at the moment is the supply situation. We saw a steep increase in stocks, which took its toll on prices,” said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney, prior to news of kidnapping of Libya’s prime minister.
“And now macroeconomic concerns building over the U.S. budget crisis are drawing in the same direction, leading to softening oil prices.”
Further gains in oil prices were limited by the dollar, which rose against major currencies on Thursday after the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s September meeting showed the decision not to slow stimulus was a “close call.” The nomination of Janet Yellen also removed uncertainty in financial markets on who will be the next head of the central bank.
The currency had hovered near an eight-month low in the past week, supporting dollar-denominated oil prices.
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