Oil prices rebound slightly on Middle East tensions, Greece woes
Oil crept higher Monday, rebounding from last week's multi-month lows on speculative buying and as concerns resurfaced over supplies from the crude-rich Middle East, particularly from Iran.
The market was also supported by Group of Eight (G8) leaders calling for Greece to stay in the eurozone at a weekend summit in the United States as they debated deep divisions about how best to tackle Europe's fiscal woes.
Brent North Sea crude for delivery in July advanced 26 cents to $107.40 per barrel in late morning deals.
New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for delivery in June increased by 30 cents to $91.78 a barrel.
Crude futures had slumped last week as the market was rattled by concern about the weak demand outlook arising from the eurozone crisis.
Before the weekend, Brent crude struck $106.40 on Friday, touching the lowest point since late December. New York's light sweet crude sank to $91.60, hitting the lowest level since early November.
"Oil prices are making a slight recovery as the new week begins, having plummeted to their lowest level this year on Friday," said Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch.
"It would therefore come as no great surprise if we were to see tentative signs of buying on the part of speculative financial investors."
The market also advanced on Monday ahead of a crucial meeting on Iran later this week.
"The Middle East concerns are coming back into the market, and the upcoming talks between Iran and Western countries is being seen as a crunch point for oil," added IG Markets analyst Justin Harper.
"The G8's commitment to growth and to keep Greece in the eurozone has also spurred the market."
G8 leaders on Saturday sent a strong message to major producer Iran that tough sanctions imposed over its nuclear programme would be firmly applied, days before the next round of nuclear talks between global powers and Tehran in Baghdad.
Iran faces a raft of sanctions from the United Nations, the United States and the European Union over suspicions that the Islamic republic's nuclear programme masks a push to develop atomic weapons.
Tehran has so far denied the charges, and threatened to blockade the strategic strait of Hormuz if it is faced with further measures.
Elsewhere, fears over the eurozone's debt troubles were slightly soothed by a broad agreement by the G8 leaders for the bloc to embrace growth measures along with austerity as a way to stave off a major debt contagion.
"The G8 talk of helping global economic growth has helped steady the ship a little in these choppy waters," added Harper.
The G8 club of developed nations is made up of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.
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