Oil prices were mixed in volatile Asian trade today, with investors closely following the developments in the euro zone following the controversial Cyprus bailout deal, analysts said.
New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, gained three cents to $93.77 a barrel in the mid-morning Asian trade, while Brent North Sea crude for May delivery dropped 18 cents to $109.33.
Brent prices were weighed down by concerns over the Cyprus deal, said Ker Chung Yang, senior investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore.
“Oil markets are likely to remain volatile for the next few days (with) investors monitoring for any spill-over of the developments in Cyprus to other euro zone nations,” he said in a market commentary.
Euro zone officials had yesterday signalled that the shock levy of up to 9.9 per cent on all bank deposits in Cyprus, part of an agreed bailout deal unveiled last week-end, could be modified to lessen the hit on small depositors.
“The hint of flexibility by European policymakers settled a few nerves,” said Jason Hughes, head of premium client management at IG Markets Singapore.
Euro zone finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund had on Saturday agreed on a €10-billion ($13 billion) bailout deal for Cyprus, the fifth euro zone member to be saved from bankruptcy. It is the first euro zone bailout plan in which private depositors are having to help foot the bill.
The US benchmark oil prices recovered modestly in New York yesterday, with some analysts saying that the Cypriot economy was not large enough to have a significant impact on the European and global economies.