Brent Remains Above $109 On Conflict In Africa
Brent crude oil held its ground above $109 after data showed that US stockpiles fell dramatically. The commodity traded at $109.32 at 4:42 GMT as weak US data kept any large gains in check.
With winter demand nearing its end and the US and Europe thawing out after a difficult winter, refiners have begun to take plants offline for maintenance leaving investors to suss out the commodity's demand outlook. The end of the peak consumption season coupled with plant maintenance has weighed on crude demand.
However, Brent prices stayed afloat as unrest in North African OPEC exporter Libya continued. CNBC reported that a power plan in Southern Libya has been disabled after more than 100 rockets were fired in a confrontation between government militia and opposition groups. The incident served as a reminder that the nation's government is unable to control the region's ongoing conflict.
Weak US economic data has mitigated gains from the conflict in Libya as many are becoming skeptical about the US' recovery. The nation's home prices in December indicated that the US housing recovery could be losing momentum. Additionally, lower than expected consumer confidence compounded worries. However, some say the nation's severe winter could be to blame for the poor housing data and see the US' economic outlook as generally positive.
Moving forward investors will be closely watching for data from the Energy Information Administration for a better picture of the nation's oil stocks. The American Petroleum Institute has already released data which showed that the nation's stockpiles gained less than expected, leading to questions about US consumption.
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