Oil prices retreated in Asian trade Thursday on easing concerns about Middle East supply, while minutes from the US Federal Reserve were unable to shed any new light on the future of its stimulus programme.
New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in October, slipped two cents to $103.83 in mid-morning trade, and Brent North Sea crude for October dipped 19 cents to $109.62.
“The drop in crude oil prices could be attributed to signals of the resumption of Libyan exports,” Lee Chen Hoay, investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore, said in a note.
Libya’s main oil terminals have been hit by strikes since late July that caused production to plummet to fewer than 330,000 barrels per day before rising again to 670,000.
According to reports, Libyan officials have said some terminals will reopen soon and more shipments could restart in the next few days.
The minutes of the Fed’s policy-setting committee meeting in late July were unable to clarify when it will begin winding down its huge bond-buying scheme, with members split on the timing as they wait for the US economy to improve.
Investors fear that the shift in US monetary policy will hit oil demand in key emerging economies such India, where the rupee has fallen to record lows against the dollar this week.
More generally, an end to the stimulus will likely see a rise in the dollar, which in turn could send oil prices down as it makes the commodity more expensive for people buying with other currencies.