Oil prices inched higher in Asian trade today ahead of the release of US jobs figures and on concerns about a possible US-led strike on Syria, analysts said.
New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in October, gained one cent to $108.38 in mid-morning trade, while Brent North Sea crude for October added two cents to $115.28.
“The threat of a Syrian war is already priced in to a certain extent,” Kelly Teoh, market strategist at IG Markets in Singapore, said. “We would need to wait till next week to see if it’s going on,” she said.
Dealers fear a military strike on Syria — which is accused of using chemical weapons on its own civilians — could lead to a wider conflict in the oil-rich West Asia that would put a strain on supplies.
Tensions increased yesterday after the US envoy to the United Nations accused Russia of holding the UN Security Council hostage over the crisis.
World leaders gathered at the G20 summit in Saint Petersburg discussed the crisis yesterday at a working dinner, but failed to bridge deeply entrenched divisions over the need for military action.
The Obama administration is seeking approval from lawmakers for military strikes, which could be joined by France.
Eyes are also on the release of US non-farm payrolls data to be released later Friday, analysts said.
While a strong figure would provide more evidence the world’s top oil consumer is on the road to recovery, it would also signal the beginning of the end of the US Federal Reserve’s stimulus programme, which has fuelled an investment drive in emerging economies.
“We are coming to the end of a chapter that needs to be closed. It is also a road untraveled, attributing to skittish behaviour,” Teoh said.