Oil steady as Middle East conflict fears support, Trump probe weighs

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil was largely flat on Thursday after a Pentagon statement intensified concerns of a Middle East conflict disrupting supply, supporting prices, while new details connected to the impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump weakened demand sentiment.

Brent crude LCOc1 futures settled at $62.74 a barrel, up 0.6%, or 35 cents. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 settled at $56.41 a barrel, down 8 cents, after briefly turning positive following the Pentagon statement.

Crude futures pared losses late in the session after the U.S. Department of Defense said it would deploy radar systems, Patriot missiles and about two hundred personnel to bolster Saudi Arabia’s defenses after an attack on the kingdom’s oil facilities this month.

Details about the deployment clarify the Pentagon’s Friday announcement about U.S. plans to send more forces to Saudi Arabia after the Sept. 14 strike, which Washington has blamed on Iran.

“The complex saw a late session rally on reports that the U.S. was sending military equipment to Saudi Arabia with the headlines driving another dose of risk premium into the pricing structure,” said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates.

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