Oil bills rose amidst Syria distresses

Global benchmark Brent was 67 cents higher at $48.36 a barrel.

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Oil prices have finished lower following a choppy session as traders looked ahead to Friday’s United States jobs report for September.

The market seemed to pick up momentum early in the session from USA petroleum data released on Wednesday that showed lower U.S. oil production.

On Friday, oil services firm Baker Hughes Inc. will publish the latest USA oil drilling rig count, which many see as a proxy for activity in the industry.

Meanwhile, investors were awaiting the USA nonfarm payrolls report for September, which could help to provide clarity on the likelihood of a near-term interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve.

Both contracts closed higher on Tuesday after sinking on Monday along with equities following dismal industrial data that reignited doubts about China’s commodity-hungry economy.

Oil prices remain stuck within the month-long consolidation range, with WTI trapped within $40-50, and Brent within $45-55″, said Bernard Aw, market strategist at IG Markets in Singapore.

A rate increase is supportive of the USA dollar which would make dollar-priced oil more expensive to weaker currencies, hurting demand and depressing prices.

Concerns over tensions in Syria grew stronger with the arrival of hundreds of Iranian troops in the country to join a ground offensive in support of government forces, a sign the civil war is turning still more regional and global in scope. With last week’s decline, the number of rigs throughout the US fell to the lowest total since August, 2010.

As Asian stocks recovered from Tuesday’s rout, oil prices remain under pressure because demand growth continues to fall behind crude supply, analysts said.

Ford Motor said its USA sales rose 23 per cent in September, the best level since 2004, while General Motors said its total sales rose 12 per cent.

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It came after topsy turvy trading in oil yesterday, where prices were propped up, partly by the threat of caused by Hurricane Joaquin which first looked to be headed towards the Gulf of Mexico before heading offshore and up towards the East coast.

Oil higher in Asia ahead of US jobs report hurricane threat