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Oil prices drop by $2

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Crude slipped by $2 on Monday as a ratings downgrade for Greece gave fresh impetus to the euro zone debt crisis, lifting the dollar to a seven-week high against a basket of currencies.

Fitch cut Greece’s debt rating by three notches on Friday, pushing the country deeper into junk and sending investors out of the euro and equities and into gold.

“The dollar is the key factor driving prices now,” said Serene Lim, commodities analyst with ANZ Bank in Singapore. “We saw the euro continue to slip after Greece’s debt rating was cut last Friday and that’s been negative for oil.”

The dollar index rose by almost 1 percent, making dollar-denominated crude more expensive for consumers using other currencies.

U.S. crude futures for July fell $2.26 to $97.84 by 3:24 a.m. EDT, while Brent crude for July was down $2.39 to $110.00 a barrel.

Standard & Poor’s cut its outlook for Italy to “negative” from “stable” on Saturday, which with the Fitch downgrade showed that the continent’s problems were escalating rapidly.

Oil prices were also hit by expectations of lower demand from Europe as a volcanic eruption threatens air travel disruption.

Ash from a massive plume of smoke from an eruption of Iceland’s most active volcano could spread south to parts of Europe next week, but experts on Sunday still hoped the impact on air travel would be limited.

Brent is expected to rise toward $118 per barrel, while U.S. crude remains neutral within a range of $95.26-$100.99 per barrel, but is biased to rise to $104.60, says Reuters market analyst Wang Tao.

DEMAND STILL STRONG

Strong demand from China is expected to support oil prices in the longer term, analysts said.

China is bracing for its worst power shortage since 2004, which has led to it clamping down on diesel shipments.

“With the oil market already in deficit, incrementally higher Chinese demand over the summer could create an extra layer of strength,” said Barclay Capital in a research note.

Persistent tensions in the Middle East and worries about the possibility of further supply disruptions continue to keep a floor under oil prices, analysts said.

Tunisian Foreign Minister Mold Kefir said on Monday he believed Libyan Oil Minister Shoer Ghana was no longer working for the Gaddafi regime, contradicting earlier claims by the government in Tripoli that he was on an official trip to Tunisia, Europe and Egypt.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Sale refused to sign an agreement on Sunday to step down, the third time such a deal has fallen through at the last minute, despite pressure from Gulf Arab and Western mediators.

Uncertainty over pan-Arab protests and Libya’s conflict pushed Brent to a 32-month peak last month, before a sharp correction in early May resulted in prices registering their largest ever weekly decline of more than $16 a barrel.

But an expected increase in output from Iraq later this year could help mitigate any loss in supply due to the geopolitical tensions.

Iraq expects output from its southern oil-fields to hit up to 2.5 million barrels per day at the end of this year from around 1.92 million bud now, the head of South Oil Co. (SOC) told Reuters on Saturday.

Source: Reuters

Court jails wax print thief

     Akim Oda (E/R), May 22, GNA – The Akim Oda Magistrate Court has
sentenced Emmanuel Agyekum to 36 months imprisonment in hard labour for
causing damage and stealing 32 pieces of assorted wax prints.
     The items were the property of Madam Faustina Adu-Gyamfi, a seamstress.
     The accused, 21, pleaded guilty to two counts of causing damage and
stealing and was sentenced to 18 months prison term, to run consecutively.
     One Kwabena, an accomplice is on the run.
     Michael Gye-Nyame, 21, a farmer who purchased the wax prints pleaded
guilty to dishonestly receiving and the court presided over by Mr Albert
Owusu Annor imposed a fine of GH¢200 on him.
     Gye-Nyame was also ordered by the court to pay additional GH¢100 as
compensation to Madam Adu-Gyamfi, or in default serve 18 months jail term.
     Prosecuting, Police Chief Inspector Kwadwo Ahenkorah told the court
that the complainant Madam Adu-Gyamfi lives at Akim Oda, while the convicts
reside at Akim Oda Old Town.
     At about 0730 hours on February 21, this year the complainant detected
the theft of her 32 pieces of assorted wax prints from her shop and
therefore, reported the matter to the Akim Oda Police.
     He said during investigation, a witness in the case informed the police
that he strongly suspected Agyekum and one Kwabena, who was serving a prison
term at the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons.
     Chief Inspector Ahenkorah stated that six of the wax prints were
retrieved from Agyekum’s room during a search by the police which Madam
Adu-Gyamfi identified as part of her stolen wax prints.
     He said on February 24 Agyekum was arrested from his hideout and
mentioned Kwabena as his accomplice and also led the police to arrest
Gye-Nyame who bought seven of the wax prints for GH¢90 and at the time of
his arrest, he had sown two sets out of the prints.
GNA

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