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WTI, Brent poised for weekly gain

A photograph taken from southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip on December 21, 2023, shows smoke billowing following Israeli bombing of the Palestinian territory amid ongoing battles with the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Jack Guez | AFP | fake images

Oil prices returned to weekly levels as hopes for a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas appeared to fade.

Crude oil prices rose slightly on Friday with the West Texas Intermediate The March contract added 62 cents to settle at $76.84 a barrel. He Brent The contract settled at $82.19 a barrel, up 56 cents.

Based on their settlement prices, both US crude oil and the global benchmark ended the week up more than 6% as the conflict in the Middle East drags on with no end in sight.

Israel is pressing ahead with its war in Gaza, bombing the southern city of Rafah, on the border with Egypt, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Hamas’ proposed terms for a ceasefire.

And the United States killed a top militant leader in a drone strike in Baghdad this week, raising tensions with the government of Iraq, a major oil producer.

Oil often surges due to tensions in the Middle East, but prices have struggled to break out of a range as the conflict has not caused a substantial disruption to crude supplies so far.

Supply and demand fundamentals have also weighed on prices in recent months, as record production in the United States and a faltering economy in China have some traders worried that the market is oversupplied.

But crude oil prices found support this week after the US Department of Energy forecast that US production will grow at a slower pace this year than originally expected. The department expects a slight overall supply shortfall this year.

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