Crude prices mixed in Asian trade

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jul 18 2011 11:40 AM | Updated as of Jul 18 2011 07:40 PM

SINGAPORE - Oil prices were mixed in Asian trade Monday as news of European banks passing closely-watched stress tests counteracted concerns over the US government's debt problems, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in August, fell nine cents to $97.15 per barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for September delivery was up 22 cents to $117.48.

"Oil is sort of holding steady, it's really pulled in all different directions," said Victor Shum, senior principal of Purvin and Gertz energy consultants in Singapore.

"On the one hand, the news late last week that most European banks have passed the stress tests... has supported crude futures," he told AFP.

The European Union's banking regulator the European Banking Authority on Friday announced that only eight of 91 banks had failed stress tests, a better than expected result amid the region's escalating debt woes.

Crude traders had been awaiting the results of the tests to gauge the impact of the eurozone's broadening debt crisis, which could potentially cut into European energy demand.

However, persistent worries of a political impasse in the United States over its debt crisis continued to hang over crude prices, Shum said.

"The debt situation in the US is bearish for the oil market... The concern there has got to do with whether the Obama administration and Republican party will agree to move the US debt ceiling," he stated.

On Sunday, a bipartisan Senate plan took shape to allow US president Barack Obama to avert a potentially catastrophic debt default in return for $1.5 trillion in spending cuts over a decade.

With two weeks to go until what Obama has termed economic "Armageddon", the rival Senate leaders, Mitch McConnell of the Republicans and Harry Reid of the Democrats, were working on a complex path out of the crisis.

But traders were sceptical on the prospects of a near-term political resolution after five straight days of testy White House talks with congressional leaders ending Thursday with no deal in sight.