Oil prices hang on to last week’s gains after rally on Middle East tensions

Environment

An emission comes out of a smoke stack at the Infineum oil refinery on February 6, 2024, in Linden, New Jersey. 
Gary Hershorn | Corbis News | Getty Images

Oil prices fell Monday after rallying more than 6% last week on escalating Middle East tensions.

The West Texas Intermediate contract for March was last down 72 cents, or 0.94%, to trade at $76.09 a barrel. The Brent contract for April was last trading at $81.37 a barrel, down 82 cents or 1%.

U.S. crude and the global benchmark popped last week after Israel rejected Hamas’ proposal for a ceasefire and vowed to press on with its Gaza offensive to the southern city of Rafah, which is located on the border with Egypt.

“We’re going to do it. We’re going to get the remaining Hamas terrorist battalions in Rafah, which is the last bastion, but we’re going to do it,” Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told ABC’s “This Week” in an interview that aired Sunday.

“Those who say that under no circumstances should we enter Rafah are basically saying lose the war, keep Hamas there,” Netanyahu said. The prime minister said Israel would provide safe passage for civilians out of the southern city.

Oil prices have struggled to breakout of a $10 trading range despite tensions in the Middle East. Tamas Varga, analyst with oil broker PVM, said a more significant rally would require an extreme scenario, such as direct U.S. attack on Iran, that would lead to a material disruption of crude supplies.

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