Hamas’ armed wing has released two US hostages in Gaza, a mother and daughter, on “humanitarian grounds” in response to Qatar’s efforts to mediate the war with Israel. This conciliatory attitude was also effective in softening oil prices on Friday. Thus, hope grew that the Israeli-Palestinian crisis would subside without shaking the rest of the Middle East region and without interrupting the oil supply.
Brent crude futures fell 22 cents, or 0.2%, to settle at $92.16 a barrel.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil (WTI) futures for November delivery fell 62 cents, or 0.7%, to $88.75 a barrel after settlement on Friday. The more active December WTI contract fell 29 cents to close at $88.08 a barrel.
On Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told troops on the Gaza border that they would soon see the Palestinian region “from the inside”, and the Pentagon said that it had neutralized the missiles fired from Yemen to Israel.
Towards the end of the week, some of the risk premiums left the market. The market started Friday with little hope and turned to possible signs that there might be a way out of this crisis.
Both contracts gained more than a dollar a barrel during the session on signs the conflict was escalating. On a weekly basis, both front-month contracts rose more than 1% for the second consecutive weekly gain.
The Middle East remains a major focus of the market due to fears of a region-wide conflict that could disrupt oil supplies. Although supply disruptions are less likely now, the market cannot afford to ignore them, especially as we head into the non-trading weekend when things could change quickly.
Additionally, prices are supported by forecasts that the market will tighten in the fourth quarter after leading producers Saudi Arabia and Russia extended supply cuts until the end of the year. Large stock withdrawals in the USA also support the thesis that supply is insufficient.
Money managers reduced their net long U.S. crude futures and options positions by 56,850 contracts to 183,351 in the week to Oct. 17, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said on Friday.
It would not be surprising to see the oil trading in the range of $90 to $100 per barrel in the coming sessions.