Brent crude oil futures slipped towards $66 a barrel on Tuesday, falling from a 2015 high, as Saudi Arabia considered halting bombing in Yemen to allow the delivery of aid, which eased concerns about oil supply from West Asia.
A stronger US dollar also weighed on the dollar-denominated commodity, while investors waited for data on US commercial crude oil inventories later this week for more direction.
Brent crude oil futures were down 5 cents at $66.40 a barrel at 0357 GMT, after touching a 2015 high of $67.10 on Monday. US crude oil futures fell 6 cents to $58.87 a barrel.
“The stronger US dollar and also news out of Saudi Arabia that they are halting the bombings in Yemen are two push-pull factors affecting the oil prices at the moment,’’ said Ben Le Brun, a market analyst at OptionsXpress in Sydney.
Saudi to halt bombing in Yemen
The Saudi foreign minister had said on Monday that the Saudi-led Arab alliance conducting air strikes against Houthi fighters in Yemen was considering calling a truce in specific areas to allow humanitarian supplies to reach the country.
Phillip Futures Energy analysts do not expect prices to change by more than 1 per cent on Tuesday as long as geopolitical tensions remain the same.
US stockpiles data
Investors are also waiting for inventory data out of the United States later this week, Le Brun said. “Obviously if we see a further tightening in supplies in the US, then that might be a catalyst to drive prices higher.’’
A Reuters poll on Monday suggested commercial crude stockpiles had risen nearly 2 million barrels last week, building for a record 17th straight week.
Industry group the American Petroleum Institute will issue its own expectations for last week’s stockpiles on Tuesday, before official data from the government’s Energy Information Administration on Wednesday.
US payrolls report
Investors are also waiting for the US non-farm payrolls report for April due on Friday for clues on when the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates.
Still, oil price losses were limited by concern about supply out of Libya, with protesters shutting down the eastern Libyan port of Zueitina, one of the few Libyan ports still exporting oil.
Libyan oil production has fallen to less than 500,000 barrels a day, a third of what it used to pump in 2010.
A US delegation will visit Iran this week to review the energy investment opportunities as Tehran negotiates a final deal with world powers on its nuclear programme.