* Abundant supply keeps pressure on crude
* Dollar at four-year high
* Libya production rises, Hariga port back to normal
(Updates prices to settlement)
NEW YORK, Sept 25 (Reuters) – Brent crude oil prices held
steady while U.S. crude dipped slightly in choppy trading on
Thursday as abundant supply and a strong U.S. dollar largely
outweighed worries that conflict in the Middle East would
Libya’s oil output has climbed to 925,000 barrels per day
(bpd), with the major El Sharara oilfield at 200,000 bpd, an
official with the National Oil Corp said on Thursday, despite
fighting between the factions that divide the country and a
government driven from the capital.
The dollar hit a four-year high as the yield difference
between U.S. and German bonds widened to the highest in nearly
15 years on Thursday, while global equity markets fell sharply
as the stronger dollar pointed to potential earnings losses.
“The weakening euro and yen is keeping the lid on crude oil
prices for sure, as is the global picture in terms of production
levels,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC in
Brent rose by 5 cents to settle at $97.00 a barrel
after swinging by more than $1 between $96.22 and $97.56
throughout the session. It had hit its lowest since July 2012 at
$95.60 on Wednesday.
U.S. crude, also known as West Texas Intermediate (WTI)
settled 27 cents lower at $92.53.
Front-month U.S. RBOB gasoline futures rose by nearly
5 cents as refinery glitches in the U.S. pushed its premium to
the second-month contract as high as 20 cents on
U.S. air strikes targeted Syrian refineries controlled by
Islamic State. Nineteen people were killed overnight, according
to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“The prospect of more air strikes might be making people
jittery,” Christopher Bellew, senior vice president with
Jefferies Bache, said.
The dollar’s strength dampened demand for commodities priced
in the U.S. currency at a time when global economic growth is
already lackluster, particularly in the euro zone and China. The
euro reached a 22-month low as speculation grew that the region
would need another stimulus package to spur growth.
U.S. stocks were sharply lower moving into the latter stages
of trading on Thursday, weighed down by a drop in Apple shares,
as each of the major indexes fell more than one percent and the
SP broke below a key support level.
Scattered attacks by rival militias continued across Libya,
but its overall national production has risen.
Officials at Libya’s eastern Hariga oil port said it had
fully recovered from eight months of blockades by protesters and
was exporting more than 120,000 bpd.
(Additional reporting by Libby George in London, Seng Li Peng
in Singapore; Editing by William Hardy, Gunna Dickson and Diane