• Riyadh committed to oil market stability: Al-Assaf


    Riyadh committed to oil market stability: Al-Assaf

    Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf and his French counterpart Christine Legarde sign a protocol for avoiding double taxation between the Kingdom and France in Paris on Friday. Al-Assaf is in the French capital heading the Saudi delegation to the G20 finance ministers’ meeting. (SPA)
    Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf said Riyadh was committed to its moderate policy that supports a stable oil market.
    “The Kingdom's policy [is still] aimed at achieving stability and a stable price, which will enable producers and consumers to achieve their goals,” Al-Assaf said.
    “There are, of course, factors that aren't related to supply and demand that affect the oil and the commodities market, which the global community needs to address,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a banking conference in Paris.
    Oil prices rose on Friday as Middle East and North Africa tensions offset China's bank reserve rate hike and kept trading volatile.
    Gains by US front-month March crude contract, ahead of its expiration next Tuesday, were surpassed by April prices that jumped above $90 a barrel, continuing to narrow the premium of its Brent counterpart after the spread hit a record $16.51 on Thursday.
    US crude for March delivery rose $1.03 to $87.39 a barrel at noon EST (1700 GMT). US April crude surged $1.68 to $90.52 a barrel.
    ICE Brent crude for April delivery rose 23 cents to $102.82, bouncing off an earlier $100.73 low. Wednesday's Brent intraday peak of $104.52 was the highest since September 2008.
    “We're seeing pre-expiration WTI/Brent spread unwinding, with some probably taking some profit and also covering shorts ahead of the weekend with a wary eye on the Middle East,” said Gene McGillian, analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.
    Along with the Middle East and North Africa unrest, short-covering was also expected ahead of the weekend and Monday's market holiday in the United States.
    Focus on Middle East tensions was heightened as Egypt approved the passage of two Iranian warships through the Suez Canal, according to a security source.
    The tide of unrest is likely to dominate talks in Saudi Arabia next week. The nearly 100 countries invited to the International Energy Forum on Tuesday include all 12 members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

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