- POSTED: 28 Sep 2013 04:25
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Oil prices slipped on Friday amid easing tensions between the West and Syria and Iran, and as traders watched a US political battle over looming budget and debt deadlines.
NEW YORK: Oil prices slipped on Friday amid easing tensions between the West and Syria and Iran, and as traders watched a US political battle over looming budget and debt deadlines.
New York's West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for November closed at $102.87 a barrel, down 16 cents from Thursday's closing level.
Brent North Sea crude for delivery in November, the European oil benchmark, dropped 58 cents to $108.63 a barrel in London trade.
Oil prices have trended lower recently amid signs of diplomatic progress in resolving the West's concerns about Iran's nuclear program and Syria's chemical weapons.
WTI snapped a five-day losing streak Thursday but the gain was modest, 37 cents, and the futures contract continued its slide.
"Overall, we view the direct fundamentals as more consistent with a further cycle of long liquidation as diplomatic progress on both Syria's chemical weapons and Iran's nuclear program reduces threat to uninterrupted oil supplies," said Tim Evans of Citi Futures.
Markets awaited the outcome of a UN Security Council vote on Friday night on a UN resolution that provides for the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.
"The market is focused on short term today and on what will happen with this resolution," said Daniel Flynn of The PRICE Futures Group.
Investors had earlier feared that a possible US-led strike on Syria in retaliation for its alleged use of chemicals against its own people would spark a wider conflict in the crude-rich Middle East.
Traders also kept an eye on Washington, where fierce political battles over the budget and the debt ceiling raged.
Congress must strike a budget deal by midnight Monday or cause a partial shutdown of the federal government on Tuesday, the start of the 2014 fiscal year.
The US Senate passed a temporary budget bill on Friday and sent it to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives as the showdown entered the final stretch.
A two-week government shutdown would shave 0.3 percent points off growth in the world's biggest economy, according to Macroeconomic Advisors, weighing on energy demand.
Of greater concern to market analysts, however, was the looming debt ceiling deadline.
Congress needs to raise the nation's legal borrowing limit by October 17, according to the US Treasury, or the United States could be forced to default on its debts for the first time in history.