November 23, 2012, 7:36 pm
BANGKOK (AP) — Oil prices fell Friday as a cease-fire agreement between Israel and the militant Hamas group that stopped weeklong fighting in the Gaza Strip continued to hold.
Benchmark crude for January delivery was down 18 cents to $87.20 per barrel at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 63 cents to finish at $87.38 per barrel Wednesday. Markets were closed Thursday for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.
Israel launched an offensive on Nov. 14 to halt rocket fire from Gaza, unleashing some 1,500 airstrikes on Hamas-linked targets, while Hamas and other Gaza militants showered Israel with just as many rockets. The eight days of fighting killed 161 Palestinians and six Israelis.
A truce reached Wednesday was still intact, easing fears of an escalating war that could spill beyond Gaza and eventually disrupt oil supplies.
"I think it’s a bit of reaction to the cease-fire in the Middle East, said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney. Oil prices are "more or less flat-lining, a little bit up and down within a range," he said.
Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, fell 39 cents to $110.47 a barrel in London.
In other energy futures trading in New York: Heating oil fell 1.7 cents to $3.064 a gallon; Wholesale gasoline fell 2.1 cents to $2.702 a gallon; Natural gas rose 0.4 cent to $3.907 per 1,000 cubic feet.