“West Texas Intermediate crude snapped a three-day gain. Syrian government forces started an offensive against rebels, renewing concern that conflict may destabilize the Middle East.
Futures declined in New York after rising for a third day on May 17. Government forces retook most of the strategic city of Al-Qusair in central Syria, state-run SANA news agency said. Iraq resumed crude exports via Turkey after a bomb attack targeted an oil pipeline on May 17. Hedge funds and other money managers raised bullish bets on Brent to their highest level in six weeks, according to data from ICE Futures Europe.
“Syria is a microcosm of the unrest across the Middle East and could spread to other countries,” said Christopher Bellew, a senior broker at Jefferies Bache Ltd. in London.
WTI for June delivery dropped as much as 69 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $95.33 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, and was at $95.50 at 12:42 p.m. London time. The more-active July future slid 53 cents to $95.47. Front-month prices increased 86 cents to $96.02 on May 17, the highest close since May 10.
Brent for July settlement dropped 53 cents to $104.13 a barrel on the London-based ICE exchange. The front-month European benchmark was at a premium of $8.37 to WTI, up from $8.35 on May 17.